DRUG ARRESTS - ALERT seized a significant amount of drugs and firearms, including two handguns, two shotguns, an SKS rifle, a body armour vest, 1.2 kilograms of cocaine, 2.3 kilograms of cannabis, 2.3 kilograms of cannabis resin, 240 milliliters of cannabis oil and $39,000 cash proceeds of crime. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

UPDATE/WATCH: Over $250,000 worth of drugs seized in Red Deer investigation

A total of 57 criminal charges have been laid

A lengthy organized crime investigation in the Red Deer area has resulted in the seizure of five firearms and more than $250,000 worth of drugs and cash.

The arrest of one of the individuals, Levin Hill, including a harrowing incident of resisting arrest while also possessing a firearm with the serial number removed.

ALERT CEO Chad Coles said the arrest is indicative of the challenges officers are facing across the country.

“It speaks to the kind of environment law enforcement is facing across the province and country. These are the types of dangers they face when they go to arrest individuals,” he said.

The investigation, known as Project Rails, was a year-long investigation by ALERT’s Red Deer organized crime team into suspected drug trafficking. The investigation concluded with the arrest of two suspects on June 21st. A total of 57 criminal charges have been laid.

Search warrants were conducted at homes in Sylvan Lake and Red Deer. Members of Sylvan Lake RCMP, Red Deer RCMP, and ALERT Calgary provided assistance with the search warrant executions and subsequent arrests.

Over the course of the investigation, ALERT seized a significant amount of drugs and firearms, including two handguns, two shotguns, an SKS rifle, a body armour vest, 1.2 kilograms of cocaine, 2.3 kilograms of cannabis, 2.3 kilograms of cannabis resin, 240 milliliters of cannabis oil and $39,000 cash in proceeds of crime.

Coles noted that while cannabis will be regulated in October, it is currently an illegal commodity and the connection to cocaine and firearms shows a nexus of criminal activity.

One of the handguns seized had its serial number removed, while the other was a prohibited revolver-type handgun. The SKS rifle seized was equipped with a drum magazine.

“This nexus to firearms shows the public safety impact drug trafficking has on communities,” Coles said. “In this case, you are arresting an individual through takedown when he is in possession of a handgun with the serial number removed. That is alarming for me.”

The cash is being submitted to the province’s Civil Forfeiture Office for review.

ALERT alleges that Keegan Robinson and Hill were extensively involved in drug trafficking activities throughout Central Alberta. The two men are charged with 57 criminal offences, including charges of conspiracy to traffic drugs, drug trafficking, possession of proceeds of crime, money laundering, possession of body armour and numerous firearms offences.

Conspiracy charges are seldom laid in Alberta, according to Coles.

“Conspiracy charges speak to the complexity and the duration of the investigation and ultimately the effectiveness of dismantling this group,” he said, adding later that the group at this time does not appear to have any gang-related affiliations.

Robinson, a 26-year-old man from Red Deer, faces 18 criminal charges.

Hill, a 24-year-old man from Sylvan Lake, faces 39 criminal charges.

Both men are currently out on bail and are subject to conditions and monitoring, according to Coles

ALERT began its investigation in July 2017 and its success was the result of the collaboration between the Red Deer RCMP and ALERT, according to Coles.

“ALERT is fortunate to have such a dedicated and committed partner here in Red Deer and together we are making outstanding progress in getting drugs and firearms off the street,” he said, while also personally thanking RCMP Detachment Commander Supt. Ken Foster.

“I am very proud of the teamwork, perseverance and ingenuity that the investigators employed over the course of this investigation. This is one of the largest investigations ever taken by a Red Deer team and they should be proud of the results,” he said.

Foster credited this collaborative investigation, and several other recent drug-related arrests to the work being done by ALERT, the Red Deer RCMP’s Project Pinpoint and the Priority Crimes Task Force.

“The results we are seeing are encouraging,” Foster said. “The ALERT file we are talking about today has taken a significant amount of drugs and guns off our streets and has resulted in significant charges.

“Today’s story is the result of focused and continuous pressure on these prolific offenders we have in our communities.”

The Red Deer RCMP has continuous drug and property crime operations on the go and Foster noted that crime stats were down during the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.

“The community should be excited to see trends going downward,” he said. “A couple quarters do not show a significant trend but it is going in the right direction.

“We can also look at the crime trend which has gone up across the province but here in Red Deer, it has flattened out.”

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

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