Pubdate: Mon, 08 Jan 2018
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Juris Graney
Page: A5


ALERT boss says officers will focus on keeping up with tech-savvy bad

Disarming and dismantling the upper echelon of organized crime groups
in Alberta is in the sights of the province's dedicated guns and gang
investigators in 2018, says the province's integrated law enforcement

But in order to disrupt the complex networks of drug-running and
gun-toting criminals in Alberta, officers will need to stay ahead of
the technology curve as these groups - which include some of the
province's most notorious outlaw motorcycle gangs - are becoming
increasingly tech savvy.

That hasn't stopped Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT)
from making record busts in the past 12 months, chief executive Supt.
Chad Coles said this week. Keeping their "hands on the pulse" of
technological change will be as important as the grunt work that goes
into lengthy investigations, Coles said.

"We come in with our eyes open when we undertake these
investigations," he said.

"We recognize an investigation is going to take a little longer and
will require a bit more money and bit more resources to get it done,
but we don't shy away from it."

ALERT started the year with its largest drug seizure to date - in
Lethbridge in February - arresting three people and impounding a horde
of drugs including ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine and proceeds
of crime worth in excess of $1 million.

In an unrelated February operation, outlaw biker arrests in Fort
McMurray of members of Tribal and Syndicate - support clubs for the
Hells Angels - were followed by the arrests of Independent Soldiers
and Red Scorpions gang associates in Red Deer a month later.

A sting in Medicine Hat in March disrupted the meth market in southern
Alberta and in September, an investigation in Grande Prairie yielded
nearly $250,000 worth of drugs - including deadly fentanyl - along
with the arrest of 16 men.

ALERT's biggest nab of the year was a culmination of a year-long
investigation in Calgary that resulted in police seizing $4-million
worth of fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Eleven suspects were
charged with more than 125 criminal offences.

Closer to home, an eight-month investigation in Edmonton concluded in
August when the guns and gangs unit arrested two people suspected of
manufacturing prohibited firearms, including a MAC11 submachine-gun.
Officers seized four prohibited firearms.

"That has a direct impact on crime reduction and public safety because
we are taking that individual off the street who is manufacturing
firearms," said Coles.

"It was disconcerting that one of the guns he was alleged to have
manufactured was a MAC-11 submachine-gun.

"That is a very dangerous weapon to have on the streets. Again, I
wouldn't suspect those guns are going into the hands of law-abiding
citizens ... That's a little more firepower than anybody needs to go
target practice or hunting."

Even with all of those arrests, does Coles believe law enforcement is
making a dent on the impact of organized crime operations in Alberta?

"I would like to think so," Coles said. "If you look at the files we
have worked this past year it would be hard to argue we are not making
an impact. But, again, organized crime is far-reaching across the
province. You have to maintain the course and not take the foot off
the gas. To really see results you can't just make one arrest and say
that we are done."
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