Nfld. & Labrador

Marlene Jesso, veteran N.L. police officer, named to marijuana task force

An RNC officer from Newfoundland and Labrador who has spent much of her career fighting drug use will now advise the federal government on how to legalize marijuana.
Supt. Marlene Jesso speaks to reporters about a 2015 investigation called Operation Turbulence, which netted cocaine and cash and eight arrests. (CBC)

A police officer from Newfoundland and Labrador who has spent much of her career fighting drug use will now advise the federal government on how to legalize marijuana.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Supt. Marlene Jesso was among the nine members of a task force named Thursday.

"My career has been devoted to law enforcement but the federal government has decided to change its policy regarding marijuana and I'm delighted to be a part of it," Jesso told CBC.

Jesso has 33 years policing experience, including a decade enforcing federal drug laws.

She worked undercover, and was appointed officer in charge of the N. L. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, a joint RCMP-RNC team, in 2014.

A news release from the federal Department of Justice noted that Jesso "has overseen many highly successful investigations dealing with illegal drugs and organized crime."

Among the cases Jesso handled was Operation Turbulence, a March 2015 cocaine bust that resulted in eight arrests in Labrador West, Quebec and on the Northeast Avalon.

This drug seizure in 2015 is typical of the cases Jesso was involved in during her 33 year career. (CBC)

In October 2015 Jesso was on the team that made three arrests and seized $200,000 worth of drugs, including 20 kilograms of hashish, in an investigation called Project Typhoon.

She told reporters at the time that the drugs had arrived via Afghanistan and could be linked to terrorist acts.

More recently, in May 2016, Jesso held a news briefing to talk about what police called a million-dollar drug bust in St. John's, a seizure that included 10.5 kilograms of cocaine as well as oxycodone and LSD. Three men were arrested, one at St. John's International Airport. 

Jesso and the other members of the federal task force have been asked to submit their report to government in November, ahead of federal legislation that is expected in the spring of 2017.