Calgary

Cocaine bust largest ever in Alberta, police say

Calgary police say they have netted the largest total cocaine seizure in Alberta's history.
Police arrested 14 people and seized 80 kilograms of cocaine over the course of a year-long investigation. ((CBC))

Calgary police say they have netted the largest total cocaine seizure in Alberta's history.

Police announced Monday that they arrested 14 people and seized 80 kilograms of cocaine over the course of a year-long investigation into drug trafficking by an organized crime group.

They also seized four handguns, a rifle and $330,000 in cash. The cocaine would be worth $8 million on the streets, said Staff Sgt. Darren Cave of the drug unit.

"What we normally see is when we take significant amounts of cocaine off the street, we see an increase in price. It's our belief, from our officers out there now, that this created such an occurrence. This obviously is big in terms of disrupting this group. But what we find is criminals — that's all they know — they will re-organize and start up again. But this time we will be more aware."

Police nicknamed the investigation "Operation High Noon" and focused their efforts on a crime network that allegedly transported large volumes of cocaine from British Columbia to Alberta.

The investigation began in January 2008 when police twice seized cocaine from a home on Hawthorne Drive in northwest Calgary. Two men, one from Calgary and the other from Victoria, were arrested and charged.

Police also seized four handguns, a rifle and $330,000 in cash. ((Peter Akman/CBC))

Police continued to investigate and eventually arrested 12 more people, all but one from Calgary. They each face multiple drug-related charges, although two were recently charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine.

"Over a several-month period, these individuals are alleged to have used a number of vehicles with hidden compartments to transport drugs between the provinces. It was during the transport that police were able to stop these vehicles and seize another 13 kilograms of cocaine," said Cave, reading from a statement.

"In addition, police executed numerous search warrants and recovered the packaging for an additional 20 kilograms of cocaine that reflects the level and sophistication of the group in moving more than 100 kilograms of this drug."

Officers from Victoria, Vancouver, Lethbridge and Edmonton and RCMP in Cranbrook and Osoyoos, B.C. helped with the investigation.