Grande Prairie Real Estate Developer Lands in Court with Accused Drug Trafficker

Grande Prairie… A Grande Prairie man tied to one of the city’s largest drug seizures is facing new charges related to money laundering offences, and a Grande Prairie real estate developer has been implicated in the fraud.

Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) has charged Mark Richard Phillips, 27, and Manjit “John” Nagra, 55, with offenses related to money laundering, proceeds of crime, and fraud following a complex investigation. Grande Prairie developer Studio Homes Ltd., has been charged under the proceeds of crime (money laundering) and terrorist financing act.

The ALERT Grande Prairie investigation comes on the heels of Phillips’ arrest in October 2014 when investigators seized 1.8 kilograms of cocaine and nearly 2,000 fentanyl pills from his Grande Prairie home. The drugs had an estimated street value of nearly $250,000 and was one of the largest drug busts in Grande Prairie.

Further investigation into Phillips’ suspect drug trafficking activities revealed that he had been part of a profitable drug trafficking network since early 2013. Phillips allegedly laundered the proceeds of drug sales into bank accounts and other assets.

Phillips’ home, which was raided by ALERT on October 23, 2014, was deemed to have been purchased fraudulently through suspected drug trafficking profits. The home, located in the 8800-block of 60 Avenue, was purchased by Phillips from Nagra and Studio Homes in February 2014.

Further investigation revealed Nagra facilitated the fraudulent purchase, and he is accused of being involved in laundering proceeds of crime. A search warrant was executed at Studio Homes Ltd. offices in April 2015 and financial records were seized.

Phillip’s home has been restrained under civil forfeiture legislation.  This has the effect of freezing the property until a hearing is held to determine if it should be forfeited or returned. The province’s Civil Forfeiture Office can bring application to restrain – and later forfeit – property where it is alleged to be proceeds of crime or was used in committing an offence.  In this case, the Civil Forfeiture Office alleges that the home was purchased with proceeds of crime and that cocaine was processed in the home.

In addition to the previous outstanding drug and weapons-related offences, Phillips is facing additional charges of:

  • Mortgage fraud;
  • Obtain credit by fraud;
  • Money laundering (x 2);
  • Possession of proceeds of crime (x 3);
  • Falsifying a document with intent to defraud;
  • Trafficking (x 2).

Nagra has been charged with:

  • Mortgage fraud;
  • Obtain credit by fraud;
  • Money laundering;
  • Possession of proceeds of crime;
  • Falsifying a document with intent to defraud.

According to the proceeds of crime (money laundering) and terrorist financing act, Studio Homes Ltd. directors could be fined up to $500,000 and face up to five years imprisonment.

“An investigation like this speaks to the complexity and reach of organized crime,” said Insp. Chad Coles, ALERT Regional Teams.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime. Members of Alberta Sheriffs, Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Lethbridge Regional Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, and RCMP work in ALERT.