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Project Rails Stays On Track

Project Rails Stays On Track

A little bit of perseverance paid off in a big way for ALERT’s organized crime and gang team in Red Deer.

In July 2018, ALERT announced the results of Project Rails, a year-long investigation into suspected drug trafficking activity in Central Alberta. More than $250,000 of drugs and cash were seized along with five firearms from homes in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake, making this one of the largest files the Red Deer ALERT team has ever handled. Two people were arrested and charged with a total of 57 criminal offences.

“Red Deer’s kind of unique, because a lot of the groups working here, trafficking drugs here, they don’t typically sit on a lot of product. We’re so close to Edmonton and Calgary, which are major centres for drug distribution,” said Cpl. Mike Purse, who was part of the team working the case. “A lot of the groups we target here, they’re not sitting on large amounts. So the amount of cash and drugs and guns we seized [as part of Rails] is significant for Red Deer, especially. You don’t typically see that much cash around here. You don’t typically seize large amounts of drugs in Red Deer all the time.”

With the one case occupying most of the team’s time for an entire year, there were some challenges around staying focused on the tasks at hand. But Purse and his team were able to keep those challenges to a minimum.

“We were lucky with Rails because the techniques we were using allowed us to really control the investigation,” he said. “There weren’t hundreds of hours of surveillance put into it or things like that; those are the ones where the attention can wander. During this time, we had other investigations come along that we were able to do at the same time, because we did have that level of control over the direction of Project Rails.”

The Red Deer team was also able to call on other police agencies for assistance thanks to ALERT’s integrated policing model. “We’re kind of unique here, because we don’t have the same level of integration as somewhere like Edmonton ALERT does, where they have two different police agencies – sometimes three – working together,” Purse said. “For us, we’re all Mounties here. But with the ALERT model, I can pick up my phone and, in seconds, have a contact in Edmonton or Calgary, or within the Alberta Sheriffs, or wherever we need help.

“There’s constant crossover on our files with Calgary and Edmonton; I think we have yet to work on a file where the target, or someone associated to the target, hasn’t gone to the city. When we see that happening, we have an hour to get to Calgary or an hour to get to Edmonton, and we can easily pick up the phone and have resources from the city willing and able to assist us, just like that.”

While it was important to get the drugs off the streets of Red Deer through Project Rails, perhaps the bigger impact came with the seizure of five firearms, including two handguns, two shotguns and an SKS rifle with a high-capacity drum magazine.

“When I started [in police work] 18 years ago, it was more of a rarity to see a firearm during a drug investigation,” Purse said. “Unfortunately, now it’s very common; it’s almost the norm. You expect it now.”

Those firearms, and the drug traffickers who carry them, have the potential to seriously threaten the safety of communities across Alberta. Therefore, investigators are keen to corral those traffickers before they can truly establish themselves and situations have the chance to escalate.

“If these groups are allowed to proliferate here, to stay and operate and grow in Red Deer, then the competition starts. That’s when you start to see violence between different drug trafficking groups, when they start to step on each other’s toes and take away business from one another,” Purse said. “If we’re able to catch them, stop them, as they’re growing and getting established, I think it prevents some of that inter-group violence.”

Protecting Kids Online | Internet Child Exploitation

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2023-24

2022-23

2021-22

FILE INTAKES

680

872

1,149

1,114

3,815

2,994

2,764

SUSPECTS CHARGED

22

16

34

37

109

81

125

CHARGES LAID

87

45

123

160

415

351

413

CHILDREN RESCUED

26

78

56

43

203

46

100

EXHIBITS SEIZED

335

368

545

476

1,724

1,243

1,845

TOTAL PHOTOS/VIDEOS

262,400

511,133

1,374,310

606,254

2,754,097

2,551,921

13,260,819

Stopping Human Trafficking | HUMAN TRAFFICKING & COUNTER EXPLOITATION

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2023-24

2022-23

2021-22

SUSPECTS CHARGED

13

10

7

4

34

30

76

CHARGES LAID

79

46

87

19

231

96

157

VICTIM INTERVENTIONS

30

29

17

37

113

28

22

Intelligence & Expertise | CISA / Training

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2023-24

2022-23

2021-22

INTELLIGENCE REPORTS

409

296

327

442

1,474

1,560

1,318

TRAINING COURSES

5

3

8

11

27

36

25

CANDIDATES TRAINED

321

56

135

350

862

933

638

Disrupt & Dismantle Organized Crime | Combined Special Forces Enforcement

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2023-24

2022-23

2021-22

SUSPECTS CHARGED

40

27

42

32

141

197

168

CHARGES LAID

176

156

237

231

800

1,088

820

FIREARMS SEIZED

105

53

26

48

232

102

126

EST. VALUE OF DRUGS SEIZED

$906,814

$553,851

$2,725,161

$1,148,337

$5,334,163

$10,898,269

$334,093,020

PROCEEDS OF CRIME SEIZED

$218,133

$52,970

$130,996

$230,195

$632,294

$1,432,847

$21,740,617

ANNUAL Regional ResultS

ARRESTS

CHARGES

FIREARMS

DRUGS

PROCEEDS

CALGARY

24

110

14

$937,422

$65,881

EDMONTON

17

131

45

$592,839

$272,446

FORT MCMURRAY

8

78

4

$352,942

$144,301

GRANDE PRAIRIE

7

17

13

$192,145

$31,855

LETHBRIDGE

7

29

44

$349,773

$51,245

LLOYDMINSTER

24

93

41

$164,134

$12,504

MEDICINE HAT

37

179

13

$293,108

$7,861

RED DEER

17

163

58

$2,451,800

$46,201

TOTALS

141

800

232

$5,334,163

$632,294

Organized Property Crimes | Auto Crimes

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2023-24

2022-23

2021-22

SUSPECTS CHARGED

1

1

2

1

10

CHARGES LAID

11

47

STOLEN VEHICLES

23

15

1

6

45

245

118

RECOVERED ASSETS

$1,432,000

$941,025

$108,000

$260,000

$2,741025

$8,420,500

$3,919,500

Firearms investigations | Firearms lab & Gang suPpression teams

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

2023-24

2022-23

2021-22

FIREARMS EXAMINATIONS

349

351

243

235

1,178

EXHIBIT EXAMINATIONS

1,316

1,409

891

1,099

4,715

SERIAL NUMBER RESTORATIONS

31

34

19

24

108

IBIS SUBMISSIONS

343

421

1,334

304

2,402

GUN SEIZURES

1

14

15

SUSPECTS CHARGED

4

22

26

CHARGES LAID

41

144

185

Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) involves images and/or videos that depict the sexual abuse of minors – the majority of which involve prepubescent children. Often, CSAM involves explicit and/or extreme sexual assaults against the child victim (Cybertip.ca).

Learn more about Internet Child Exploitation and ALERT’s integrated teams combatting this issue.

Ghost Guns are illegal, privately manufactured firearms or lower receivers. These weapons are often made with 3D-printers, and undermine public safety due to their lack of licensing requirements, serialization and safety controls.

Learn more about Ghost Guns on ALERT’s dedicated Privately Manufactured Firearms info page