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Police connect to seize $2 million in cocaine during drug trafficking investigation

Police connect to seize $2 million in cocaine during drug trafficking investigation

April 11, 2012

Calgary…Project Al-Connect, a province-wide drug trafficking investigation, has concluded with several arrests and the seizure of 27.5 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of nearly $2.5 million.

Members of Calgary’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-Calgary), an integrated team of Calgary Police Service and RCMP investigators, initiated the investigation after receiving information about a group transporting wholesale amounts of cocaine from British Columbia’s lower mainland to the Calgary region. ALERT units from Calgary and Edmonton teamed up to thwart the inter-provincial drug trafficking operation.

In mid-January, police searched the baggage of a passenger arriving at the Calgary International Airport and discovered 12 kilograms of cocaine. At that same time, Edmonton’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-Edmonton), an integrated team of Edmonton Police Service and RCMP investigators, seized 4.7 kilograms of cocaine while searching a vehicle and two residences: a suite on Hammond Gate and a home located in the 9100 block of 68 Avenue.

As well, CFSEU-Edmonton seized over a kilogram of marihuana, a firearm, $12,285 cash, and drug trafficking paraphernalia. The team also discovered a 20-tonne hydraulic press used in the production of cocaine, a rare find that signifies the trafficking operation’s high level of sophistication.

In spite of these seizures, it is alleged that the drug trafficking organization continued their operations with the use of a tractor-trailer unit. In mid-February, a search warrant was executed on the tractor-trailer unit, yielding an additional 11 kilograms of cocaine and $140,000 in cash.

The Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service and CFSEU-British Columbia assisted throughout this investigation.

“The collaboration between law enforcement partners was a key factor in the success of this investigation,” said CFSEU-Calgary’s Inspector Gerry François. “We believe that this organized crime group was in the process of setting up their business here, but we were able to intercede before they established a foot-hold.”

During the Calgary investigation, the following people were charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime:

  • Trieu Minh NGUYEN, a 28-year-old Airdrie resident;
  • Khanh Duy PHAM, a 21-year-old Airdrie resident; and
  • Amir RASHIDINEJAD, a 43-year-old Vancouver resident.

The Edmonton investigation led to 36 charges against three residents:

  • Sean MOORE, age 22;
  • Grant LEWIS, age 29; and
  • Tawnee MIHALCEA, age 21.

Charges include possession for the purpose of trafficking, production of a controlled substance, and a number of firearm-related offences, such as possession of a restricted firearm and possession of a firearm with an altered, defaced or removed serial number.

CFSEU-Calgary and CFSEU-Edmonton are ALERT teams established and funded by the Government of Alberta to bring together the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources to tackle serious and organized crime. Over 400 municipal police, RCMP and sheriffs work for ALERT.

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Media inquiries may be directed to:
Inspector Gerry Francois
CFSEU –Calgary
Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT)
403-428-4701

S/Sgt. Kevin Brezinski
CFSEU-Edmonton
Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT)
780-509-3123

Jill Baird
Communications
Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT)
780-690-1839

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