Edmonton… While changes were afoot, including a new CEO, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams still managed to achieve one of its most successful years ever in 2019.
Over the calendar year, ALERT teams across the province laid 1,402 criminal charges against 241 suspects; took 92 firearms out of the hands of gang members and drug dealers; seized more than $4 million in proceeds of crime; and removed nearly $13 million worth of cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine from the streets of Alberta communities.
“Since being appointed chief executive officer in August 2019, I’ve been very impressed with ALERT’s operations and the results the organization is able to achieve,” said ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta. “It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing landscape, but our front-line investigators and support staff behind the scenes do exceptional work to keep up and deliver the results Albertans expect.”
ALERT is mandated to address organized and serious crime across Alberta, with regional offices located in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer. A breakdown of statistics by region for the 2019 calendar year is available on ALERT’s website and YouTube channel.
The biggest highlight of the year for ALERT was Project Coyote, a joint investigation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that resulted in record amounts of cocaine and fentanyl pills seized. All told, over the course of two years, Project Coyote resulted in the seizure of $15 million worth of drugs, including 81.5 kilograms of cocaine in Houston, Texas, and 250,000 fentanyl pills in a Calgary apartment.
“Project Coyote was a lengthy, complex investigation, and I applaud our team in Calgary for their ongoing commitment to the investigation,” Lakusta said. “It’s a significant bust, and a great example of the efforts taken by our teams to fight organized crime.”
Some of ALERT’s other successes in 2019 include: outlaw bikers arrested for drug trafficking in Red Deer; a firearms straw purchaser foiled in Grande Prairie; a B.C.-Edmonton drug pipeline cut off; a record meth seizure in Medicine Hat; an arrest made in Lethbridge in a series of vehicle thefts; and two children being rescued as result of a child exploitation investigation.
A compilation of highlights from 2019 is available on ALERT’s website.
With new funding foreshadowed in the recent provincial budget and ALERT’s successes from 2019 to build upon, Lakusta is looking forward to expanding on the organization’s important work in 2020.
“We are excited to enhance opportunities to make communities across Alberta safer,” Lakusta said. “By working closely with other law enforcement agencies and community partners, we will continue to work toward our goals of disrupting and dismantling organized crime.”