Multiple drug operations shut down in the city in 2017

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St. Albert and Sturgeon County are currently home to the only illegal drug operations that have been shut down recently, according Alberta Health Services (AHS).

The two local fentanyl operations were among five that were found in the province during 2017. All five locations were in the Edmonton zone.

In 2016, there were three fentanyl-related executive orders involving three separate properties and they were all in Calgary Zone.

Along with fentanyl operations, St. Albert was also home to an illegal marijuana grow operation that was busted early in 2017.

A search warrant was conducted on a house in Braeside last January and several hundred marijuana plants were seized from a grow operation.

Travis Daniel Rafters, 26, was charged with production of cannabis marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and theft of electricity/gas or telecommunications over $5,000.

Rafters is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 14 at the St. Albert Provincial Court.

The home was deemed unfit for human habitation by AHS. An inspection found mould growth and the potential for mould growth, modifications to the heating system and electrical deficiencies around the house.

The second St. Albert location included on the AHS website is a home that was involved in the trafficking of fentanyl.

A search warrant was executed on Oct.19 by Stony Plain/Spruce Grove Municipal Drug Unit, with the assistance of the St. Albert Drug Unit and the K Division Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response (C.L.E.A.R) Team at a home in St. Albert.

During the search the RCMP found 200 grams of powder fentanyl, a sum of money, a stun gun, three cellphones and assorted drug-trafficking paraphernalia. RCMP also found a small production area for packaging fentanyl for sale.

Kelley Marie Williams, 26, of St. Albert was arrested on Oct. 20 and is facing charges of possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking, production of a scheduled substance (fentanyl), possession of methamphetamine, possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

The home is currently closed because the RCMP suspected it was used as a a clandestine drug laboratory for suspected fentanyl production

The third house listed is a home in Sturgeon County that was a suspected fentanyl production lab and was shut down on July 14.

The house was one of five homes busted in the drug ring and the home was a suspected drug lab being used to produce fentanyl pills.

The police seized 130,000 fentanyl pills worth around $3.9 million from the homes, along with $1 million in cash – the largest cash bust in Edmonton police history. Police also seized four large yellow portable cement mixers, two pill presses and a 2001 Ford F-150 with a hidden compartment. Together the pill presses would have been able to make around 10,000 pills an hour.

As well, 2.4 kg of cocaine worth around $129,000 was seized along with 1.8 kg of methamphetamine worth around $52,000. Police also found  834 one-gram packets of the cannabis extract known as “shatter” worth $58,000, four ounces of carfentanil worth $14,000, 658 grams of powders laced with fentanyl worth $115,000 and 100 kg of buffing agents used to make pills.

St. Albert RCMP media spokesperson Corp. Laurel Kading said that busting drug operations is part of the local RCMP crime reduction strategy

“The RCMP Crime Reduction Strategy is aimed at reducing crime in Alberta, and this cannot be achieved through policing alone. Whenever the RCMP finds a situation like the grow operation in the Braeside residence, Alberta Health Services will be contacted to ensure that no health risks continue. (AHS can speak to their procedures about these situations.) The RCMP works with the community and agency partners such as AHS, to break the cycle of crime and ensure the safety for all residents,” Kading said in an email statement.

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About Author

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.