The Estevan Police Service (EPS) drug unit initiated a drug bust they labelled Project Minch earlier this month.
The three week investigation that began in early November targeted two major cocaine trafficking groups from British Columbia as well as street-level cocaine traffickers in Estevan.
The two B.C. groups worked independently of each other, said EPS Chief Paul Ladouceur who conducted a media conference along with EPS Inspector Murray Cowan on Nov. 22 that revealed the details of the policing action.
The B.C. groups were considered two of the largest cocaine suppliers within Estevan and they were rounded up along with several local independent cocaine traffickers.
The investigation involved undercover police officers.
Over the course of three weeks, a total of four search warrants were executed with three being issued in Estevan and one in Weyburn.
As a result of these actions, police have seized about $100,000 worth of cocaine, a quantity of marijuana, approximately $20,000 in Canadian currency, one vehicle, one prohibited weapon and numerous cellular phones.
Twelve men and one woman are now facing a total of 44 charges.
The searches and arrests involved several officers from the Estevan Police Service Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Containment Warrant Entry Team (CWET), Estevan Patrol Section, Estevan Forensic Identification Section (FIS) and members of the Weyburn Police Service.
The policing activities that followed the investigation and original contacts, began on Nov. 9 when EPS members executed a search warrant on a hotel room in Estevan.
Carson Norman Clifford Pelletier, 27, of Surrey, B.C., was arrested and cocaine and crack cocaine was seized along with Canadian currency and some cannabis marijuana.
Pelletier was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; trafficking cocaine, possession of property obtained by crime and possession of marijuana under 30 grams.
The next day, Nov. 10, Weyburn Police Service’s Drug Unit and patrol members assisted the EPS Drug Unit by executing a search warrant at a hotel in that city during the early morning hours.
As a result of this action, Dylan Thomas Churly, 26, of Chilliwack, B.C., was arrested and a quantity of cocaine and crack cocaine was seized along with Canadian currency. The seized cocaine was destined to be sold in Estevan.
Churly was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime and fraudulently impersonate Shane Churly with the intent to obstruct the course of justice.
On Nov. 12, EPS members continued the policing action by executing two search warrants at Estevan residences in the early morning hours. As a result of these activities, Nicholas Jordan Boscoe, 21, of Burnaby B.C.,, Devon Jonathon Bailey, 33, of Calgary, Alta., and Brooke Turner, 21, of Terrace, B.C., were arrested with cocaine and crack cocaine being seized along with Canadian currency and a prohibited weapon.
Bailey was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking cocaine and possession of property obtained by crime.
Boscoe was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking cocaine, possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a prohibited weapon, failing to comply with a probation order (three times) and failure to comply with a prohibition order to not possess a prohibited weapon.
Tanner was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking cocaine, possession of property obtained by crime and possession of a prohibited weapon.
The policing action continued on Nov. 19 when EPS members assisted by the Estevan Police Drug Unit arrested five Estevan men for drug trafficking related offences. Cocaine, crack cocaine, Canadian currency, one vehicle and others items used for the sale and distribution of cocaine were seized.
Chase Velestuk (Monteyne), 18, was charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime.
Jaden Lee Monteyne, 19, was also charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of the drug for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime as well as failure to comply with a probation order.
Two 16-year-old males and one 17-year-old male from Estevan were charged, but cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The charges against them included trafficking in cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime.
The final phase of the investigation and policing action occurred on Nov. 21 when two Estevan men were charged after EPS officers seized a quantity of cocaine, money, marijuana and other items used for the sale and distribution of cocaine.
Kevin Michael Jardine, 26, was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property gained from crime, possession of marijuana under 30 grams and two counts of failing to comply with an undertaking.
Jonathon Flath, 25, was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of property obtained by crime.
All the individuals were released following court appearances.
Boscoe, Pelletier, Churly, Bailey and Turner are to remain out of the city of Estevan until their court dates. The first court appearances are slated for Jan. 9, 2017 at the Provincial Court House in Estevan.
Ladouceur said EPS will continue its commitment to disrupting individuals involved in the drug trade within the city.
Trafficking cocaine carries a minimum sentence of 18 months in jail.
“This was not surprising, we knew there was a high level of drug trafficking going on, so this is a conclusion to a significant investigation and action that involved several units of the police service who all worked as they should. Over the past few years we have increased our capacity to investigate and take action against the drug trade in Estevan,” said Ladouceur.
“So drug traffickers, consider yourself forewarned. We have information gleaned from the cell phones, so I expect some traffickers and users are more than a little nervous these days, because we are gathering even more intelligence on you after we’ve dumped a lot of cell phone data,” the police chief said.
Ladouceur added that “none of the people charged here should be surprised. We get our direction from the community we serve and this community has said ‘enough with drugs’ and this is a community that is not afraid to communicate with us. I hope the trust level with our police service is high enough that we can identify even more criminals and the public can be assured that if protection of identity … confidentiality is needed, it will be provided. This is just the beginning.”
Ladouceur said all the operations went swiftly and correctly, thanks to the fact the policing teams were well trained and prepared.