Prince Albert Police and RCMP released more details into the single largest cocaine seizure in the city’s history at a press conference held this afternoon at city police headquarters.
Inspector Jonathan Bergen, head of Prince Albert Police’s Criminal Investigation Division, said the drugs were found after police received a complaint from an apartment manager in August. The landlord, Bergen said, entered an unoccupied apartment and alerted police after finding evidence of drugs and drug packaging.
Prince Albert’s Integrated Street Enforcement Team (ISET), which is comprised of city police and RCMP officers, executed a search warrant on the apartment and quickly realized they were dealing with high-level drug trafficking, Bergen said.
“As a result of the search, investigators seized 11.25 kilograms of cocaine,” Bergen said. “This cocaine, if sold in its pure version by the gram, would be worth excess of $1 million.”
Bergen said investigators found eight individually-packaged kilogram bricks of high-grade cocaine and a large amount of crack and powder cocaine in various forms. Police also discovered large amounts of procaine and phenacetin, which are cutting agents used to dilute the drug, along with a safe, scale, vacuum sealer, packaging materials and a drug press.
“It’s reasonable to believe that these drugs would not only have impacted Prince Albert, but would have been distributed to multiple markets beyond our community,” Bergen said. “This amount of drugs is not just for this community.”
The seizure kicked off a long investigation, Bergen said, as police tracked down the drug trafficking ring clearly operating out of the vacant apartment.
“Thanks to several months of investigation work by ISET, six persons have been charged,” Bergen said.
Four suspects, 19-year-old Shaid Heimbecker, 22-year-old Rose Hunter, 25-year-old Madison Kasko and 25-year-old Darci Stene were all charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. The other two, 21-year-old Kelsey Bear and 27-year-old Trevor McKay, were charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking exceeding three kilograms.
Kelsey Bear, Bergen said, is the only suspect still wanted in connection with the seizure, and police have asked anyone with information regarding Bear to come forward.
RCMP Insp. Donovan Fisher said the presence of the cutting agents demonstrates just how dangerous street drugs can be.
“Phenacetin is a painkiller which was actually banned in Canada in the early 1970s due to its links to cancer and kidney damage,” Fisher said, adding the two 25 kg drums seized represent the first time police have found phenacetin in the P.A. area.
“It is unknown, at times, how much of this chemical or other substances are added to these illicit drugs to dilute their purity,” Fisher said. “A user, even a recreational user, can suffer serious side-effects or even death due to these chemicals.”
Mayor Greg Dionne applauded the efforts of RCMP and city police.
“I just want to congratulate both organizations,” Dionne told paNOW. “It’s an incredible case.”
“The more drugs we get off the street, the less crime we’re going to have,” Dionne said.
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