The Estevan Police Service (EPS) has announced charges against three people, following the latest drug bust involving methamphetamines in the community.
The EPS said in a news release on Monday afternoon that its Drug and Intelligence Unit conducted an investigation on a male suspected of trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine within Estevan.
The investigation concluded early Saturday when plain clothes officers arrested two males and one female in a vehicle in the 900-block of Fourth Street.
One man was not co-operative with police and attempted to destroy evidence by swallowing packages of drugs. Police were able to control the male and obtain the evidence before it could be destroyed.
“That’s not uncommon,” said Police Chief Paul Ladouceur. “We often see drug traffickers either try to ingest the drugs, or discard the drugs in another way upon arrest.”
Trying to ingest the drugs also carries a health risk. Police have seen instances in which people will try to transport drugs within their body, but the package ruptures.
“It’s not a good idea to ingest large quantities of drugs into the body at once,” said Ladouceur.
Following the arrest, police executed a search warrant inside an apartment suite in the 900-block of Fourth Street. No further arrests were made at that time and further evidence related to trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine was seized.
A total of 29.5 grams of cocaine, 21.7 grams of methamphetamine, $830, one firearm, eight knives, and four hatchets were seized. The vehicle was also seized as offence-related property.
Total street value of the drugs seized is estimated at $10,000.
“We’re seeing a lot of meth arrests in the city, and obviously that’s a concern to police when we start seeing meth coming in, and being that predominant in a city of our size. We’re certainly taking a strong approach to dealing with this issue right now, and kudos to our Drug and Intelligence Unit. They’re doing remarkable work.”
Then on Dec. 2, a woman was arrested as part of the ongoing investigation. She was released without charges. Ladouceur said there was reason for investigators to believe she may have been involved with the trafficking, but after speaking with her, there was insufficient grounds to believe she was directly involved.
The three people charged are Philip Williams, age 41, Daniel Panteluk, 46, and Simon Menard-Flatfoot, age not immediately released. All are from Estevan.
Williams has been charged with trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine and possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Panteluk has been charged with trafficking methamphetamine and possession for the purpose of trafficking methamphetamine under the CDSA, and is facing 18 additional charges related to firearms and weapons offences.
Menard-Flatfoot has been charged with trafficking cocaine under the CDSA and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000 under the Criminal Code.
Panteluk and Williams have been remanded into custody and were scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 3. Menard-Flatfoot was released on several conditions.
The charges have not been proven in court.
Ladouceur said there is a market for methamphetamines in the community, and while it’s hard to say why exactly the drug is becoming more prevalent in the city, there has been an increase in several Prairie cities.
“It seems to be one of the drugs that’s popular right now,” said Ladouceur.
The popularity of drugs can shift, and meth is popular right now.
“When the economy declines, sometimes people look for other avenues to support other habits, too. When the economy’s good, it’s more of a situation of people using cocaine, which is a higher-priced drug, and when the economy starts to dwindle a little bit, people are looking for a fix at a cheaper cost.”
It’s also a cheap drug to manufacture and make, and it can also provide a good profit for organized crime, he said.