Eleven people have been charged following a drug trafficking investigation that police say extended into the Bowden Institution.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams’ Edmonton organized crime team worked alongside the Correctional Service Canada, St. Albert RCMP, Morinville RCMP, Innisfail RCMP, Edmonton Police Service and Winnipeg Police Service for the investigation — called Project Evolve — which began in June 2019.
ALERT alleges a drug-trafficking network in the Edmonton area conspired to smuggle drugs into the prison system, and had established connections to the Bowden Institution, a federal prison located alongside the QEII Highway in between Innisfail and Bowden, Alta.
The investigation led police to search homes in St. Alberta and Edmonton. An estimated $300,000 worth of drugs and cash were 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
- $206,000 cash
The investigation wrapped up on Dec. 17 with the arrest of 11 people who are facing a total of 60 charges.
“This was a very well-organized, well-coordinated group,” said Staff Sgt. Blayne Eliuk of ALERT Edmonton. “Their drug activities jeopardized community safety and hurt communities big and small.
“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.”
In a news release Tuesday, Alberta’s justice minister and the warden of the Bowden Institution thanked ALERT for its work on the investigation.
“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,” Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu said.
“Partnerships such as this one between ALERT and Correctional Service Canada demonstrate intergovernmental departments working together to keep Canadians safe,” said Lawrence Hartigan, warden of Bowden Institution.
Const. M-J Burroughs with the St. Albert RCMP added organized crime groups that traffic in illicit drugs destroy lives, homes and communities.
“Drugs and drug addiction contribute to spinoff 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,” Burroughs said.
The following people are facing a total of 60 charges:
- 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
- Chayce Anthony Krause, a 26-year-old man, currently incarcerated
ALERT said both Klassen and Krause were incarcerated at Bowden Institution during the course of the investigation. Moores is currently serving a federal sentence as the result of a conviction from a previous and unrelated ALERT investigation.
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