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Busted drug trafficking network extended into Bowden Institution

"This kind of organized criminal activity has no place in the correctional system," Justice minister
MVT Project Evolve
Project Evolve started in June 2019, involved the seizure of drugs and cash estimated at $300,000 and resulted in 60 charges against 11 people. Image courtesy of ALERT

BOWDEN - Eleven suspects are facing 60 charges after police busted a drug trafficking network operating in the Edmonton area and extending into Bowden Institution, police said Tuesday (Jan. 12).

Project Evolve was a lengthy and multi-faceted investigation led by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams' (ALERT) Edmonton organized crime team, with the assistance of Correctional Service Canada, St. Albert RCMP, Morinville RCMP, Innisfail RCMP, Edmonton Police Service, and Winnipeg Police Service.

The operation, which started in June 2019, involved the seizure of drugs and cash estimated at $300,000.

Search warrants were executed at homes in St. Albert and Edmonton, with evidence seized including 35 grams of fentanyl, 88 grams of methamphetamine, 620 grams of cocaine, 1,341 grams of a cocaine buffing agent, 1,745 grams of cannabis, a handgun with its serial number removed, and $206,000 cash.

ALERT alleges the network conspired to smuggle drugs into the prison system and had established connections to Bowden Institution.

“I want to sincerely thank law enforcement for their incredible job in disrupting a significant drug trafficking network within Alberta’s correctional system,” said Kaycee Madu, Alberta minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

“ALERT has done a remarkable job partnering with federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement to remove deadly drugs like fentanyl from our prisons. This kind of organized criminal activity has no place in the correctional system.”

Staff Sgt. Blayne Eliuk, with ALERT Edmonton, said:  “This was a very well-organized, well-coordinated group. Their drug activities jeopardized community safety and hurt communities big and small.

“And by introducing drugs into the prison system, this substantially put the health and safety of not only inmates, but also Corrections staff and officers, at risk.”

St. Albert RCMP Const. M. J. Burroughs said: “Organized crime groups who traffic in illicit drugs destroy lives, homes and communities. Drugs and drug addiction contribute to spin-off crimes such as theft and break-and-enters, which result in citizens feeling less safe. 

“Investigations such as this are a positive step towards reducing crime in St. Albert and keeping the community safe.”

Bowden Institution Warden Lawrence Hartigan said: “I’d like to thank ALERT and my team at Bowden Institution for their combined efforts on Project Evolve. Partnerships such as this one between ALERT and Correctional Service Canada demonstrate intergovernmental departments working together to keep Canadians safe.”

Those facing charges are:

• David Klassen, a 31-year-old man, currently incarcerated;

• Nicolas Moores, a 29-year-old man from Edmonton;

• Garreth Curry-McCallum, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert;

• Jesse Riedlhuber, a 23-year-old man from Morinville;

• Brendan Baer, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert;

• Tyler Kemps, a 25-year-old man from Edmonton;

• Nolan Arndt, a 24-year-old man from St. Albert;

• Tyler Willimont, a 24-year-old man from Edmonton;

• Jessa Brianne Ivicak, a 23-year-old woman from Edmonton;

• Kolby Gordon, a 23-year-old man from St. Albert; and

• Chayce Anthony Krause, a 26-year-old man, currently incarcerated.

Both Klassen and Krause were incarcerated at Bowden Institution during the course of the investigation, police said.

Moores is currently serving a federal sentence under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service Canada as the result of a conviction from a previous and unrelated ALERT investigation, police said.

Dan Singleton

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