An alleged member of the Red Scorpions gang and three alleged associate members were arrested last week after a coordinated series of warrants in Red Deer County, Airdrie and Calgary.
A press conference was held Monday at the Red Deer RCMP detachment where Cpl. Sarah Knelsen of the Red Deer RCMP and Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of ALERT-Calgary explained how Red Deer RCMP, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT), Calgary Police Services, and Airdrie RCMP members executed the warrants on July 23rd.
The investigation focused on the Red Scorpions drug trafficking operation and their infiltration of the Alberta market, said Knelsen.
Cory James Lesperance, a 29-year-old man originally from B.C., is an alleged member of the Red Scorpions and is alleged to be at the centre of a drug trafficking network operating in Alberta, she said. Lesperance faces a total of 14 drug and weapons related charges.
Lesperance was arrested at a residence in the Balmoral Heights neighbourhood just outside Red Deer city limits, where two firearms were found, along with a large amount of drugs.
Police say he is currently bound by two firearm prohibitions and a recognizance order stemming from a previous drug and weapons investigation in November 2013.
Three others were also arrested in the search warrants: Robin Joseph Stewart, 52, who faces eight charges; Nicholas David James White, 21, faces six charges and Amber McLeod, 23, faces four charges.
All four will be in Provincial Court in Red Deer on Thursday. Police say additional charges and arrests may also be forthcoming.
“This investigation exemplifies the ALERT model and the ability to bring together our province’s most sophisticated policing resources to tackle drug trafficking operations that was spread across multiple jurisdictions,” said Schiavetta, who added that police information suggests that Lesperance and his associates have been active in establishing their presence and drug distribution network in Calgary, Airdrie, and Red Deer.
As seen by the weapons seized, Schiavetta said it’s clear those involved were willing to resort to violence. “It should be a great relief to members of this community and the other communities that these individuals are now in police custody.”
In addition to the Red Deer County home, search warrants were executed at a Calgary home and residence Airdire. The search warrants were executed by RCMP “K” Division Emergency Response Team and CPS Tactical team.
The search warrants yielded a number of firearms and drugs, including 512 grams of methamphetamine; 517 grams of cocaine; 52 grams of heroin; 264 grams of marihuana, 80 grams of psilocybin, 13 vials equaling 130 milliliters of anabolic steroids, a cocaine conversion lab, scales, packaging, and other drug paraphernalia, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, a stolen shotgun with ammunition, three replica handguns, $8,955 in cash and two vehicles.
Police say investigation was initiated in June by the Red Deer RCMP Street Team and expedited between the partnering agencies to address public safety concerns relating to gang activity.
“Gangs by any name operate on the same principle – maximize profits through illegal activity. This goal is attempted through intimidation, violence and preying on the drug-addicted and the ongoing struggle for control of drug territory and turf.”
He added that police has seen more B.C. based gang members trying to gain footholds in the Alberta market.
“Gangs affect every community in our province, and the risk they pose to public safety is extreme and will not be tolerated.
“We want gang members in other provinces to realize that Alberta is not a friendly place to do business.”
Members of the public who have concern about gang activity in their community can contact police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).