Fatal Superstore parking lot shooting linked to cross-border drug trade, investigation reveals
Calgarians were allegedly smuggling fentanyl, MDMA, cocaine and meth between Canada and U.S.
Calgary police have laid multiple charges, including against a man who allegedly helped obtain a gun used in a double homicide in the parking lot of a Superstore last year, as part of a wide-ranging, years-long investigation into cross-border drug trafficking between the U.S. and Canada.
On Thursday, city police, ALERT, RCMP and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that a joint investigation called Project Arbour has led to 46 charges against six individuals involved in organized crime. The investigation was assisted by DEA officials in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, the Utah Highway Patrol, FINTRAC and the CBSA.
In May 2017, two men — Colin Reitberger, 23, and Anees Amr, 26 — were found shot to death in the parking lot of a Superstore located at 48th Street and 130th Avenue S.E.
CPS believe the incident was related to a drug trafficking dispute between Christian Ouellette and Reitberger, and that Amr was not involved in criminal activity and was not the intended target.
"Anees was innocent. He had no reason to be shot and killed in public," Amr's father told media at a police press conference in November.
Police said ALERT and DEA officials realized the shootings were connected to a milestone seizure of 100 kilograms of meth in 2016 in Utah, that led to the arrests of three Calgary-area men.
ALERT CEO Chad Coles said Thursday that the meth seized in Utah had a street value of $10-15 million, and that investigators believe it was destined for Canada.
That investigation led to the discovery of a clandestine fentanyl and steroids lab in Rosscarrock in Calgary, and a cannabis-extraction lab that contained a half-kilogram of suspected fentanyl in Cougar Ridge.
Inside the Rosscarrock lab, police found a pill press capable of producing 18,000 pills per hour and an industrial grade power mixer.
Health Canada lab tests confirmed the presence of fentanyl and synthetic designer drugs on the equipment.
Four warrants were executed, and the items seized included two vehicles, five firearms, 18 kilograms of fentanyl powder, 700 grams of heroin, seven kilograms of meth and two kilograms of cocaine.
Coles said the drugs seized in Calgary and Utah were part of a cross-border smuggling trade that involved cannabis, MDMA, cocaine, meth and fentanyl being shipped between Canada and the United States.
"By dismantling this fentanyl lab, we cut off the supply of fentanyl and undoubtedly saved lives not only in Calgary but in surrounding areas," ALERT Staff Sgt. Barry McCurdy said.
Police say Allistair Chapman was the leader of the criminal organization. The 25-year-old faces 10 charges, including instructing the commission of an offence from a criminal organization, conspiracy to import and export controlled substances, production of controlled substances and trafficking.
Blais Delaire, 26, was charged with one count of weapons trafficking in relation to the Superstore parking lot homicides, police said in a release, along with multiple other charges relating to drug trafficking and money laundering. Delaire is set to appear in court on March 27.
The other men charged are Drew Mann, 25, Matthew Speirs, 24, and Bryan Livingston, 32.
Ouellette, 20, was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the case in June.
McCurdy said it's believed the drug-trafficking ring had been operating for some time before the investigation began, and that the men involved had made multiple trips between Canada and the United States.
Homicide Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said that thanks to the work done by the DEA, police were quickly able to solve the Superstore parking lot homicides.
"We were able to put the pieces of the homicide together very quickly," he said.
Schiavetta said police believe Ouellette was the group's "enforcer," which was what played out on May 21, 2017.
Police allege Ouellette arrived in a separate vehicle, shot the two men, and then left in a different vehicle — a red Dodge Durango SLT.
The driver of the Durango dropped the accused off at a Petro-Pass gas station at 70 Freeport Blvd. N.E. after the shooting.
Investigators are still looking for that vehicle, which is described as a 2004 to 2006 model, with a sunroof.
CPS is asking anyone with information to contact them at 403-266-1234, or the homicide unit tip line at 403-428-8877. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.