A year-long investigation into an organized crime group operating in Calgary has culminated with numerous arrests and a number of charges laid, Calgary Police announced on Thursday.
Known as Project Arbour, the investigation uncovered “numerous” criminal offences, drug lab operations, and a double murder in southeast Calgary on the May long weekend in 2017, said RCMP Insp. Chad Coles, during a morning press conference.
The origins of Project Arbour began following an investigation by DEA Los Angeles and the Utah Highway Patrol in October of 2016, Coles said.
“A traffic stop occurred near Provo, Utah, where a pickup truck was found loaded with more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine,” he explained.
The bust was described by Utah Highway patrol as the state’s largest as they seized an estimated $10 to $15 million worth of illicit drugs.
The vehicle’s occupants were three men from the Calgary area, of which two have since been released and retuned to Canada, while one still remains in Utah, awaiting sentencing.
One of those involved, Kyle Taylor, was found guilty of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
“It is believed that these drugs were headed to Canada and that the three Calgary men were acting as couriers for a larger group,” said Coles.
That investigation led to the discovery of a clandestine fentanyl and steroids lab in Rosscarrock in Calgary, and a cannabis-extraction lab that contained a half-kilogram of suspected fentanyl in Cougar Ridge.
Police also found a pill press capable of producing 18,000 pills per hour and an industrial grade power mixer.
A total of four search warrants were executed and a number of items were seized, including two vehicles, five firearms, 700 grams of heroin, two kilograms of cocaine, seven kilograms of meth, and 18 kilograms of fentanyl powder.
Case connected to double homicide
The case also involved an investigation into a double murder on the May long-weekend in 2017.
At the same press conference, Calgary Police Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta announced that one man has been charged with procuring the weapon used in the murders of Colin Reitberger, 23, and Anees Amr, 26.
The two men were found shot to death in the parking lot of a Superstore in the city’s southeast, after police were called to the scene at 7:55 pm on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
Blais Delaire, a 26-year-old Calgary resident, has since been charged with one count of weapons trafficking in connection with the slaying.
It is alleged, said Schiavetta, that the incident was related to a drug trafficking dispute between Christian Ouellette and Reitberger, and that Amr was not involved in criminal activity nor was he the intended target.
Investigators are still looking for the driver of a red Dodge Durango who dropped the accused off at a gas station in the city’s northeast, immediately following the incident.
“Lengthy and complex investigation”
Also speaking on Thursday was Staff Sgt. Barry McCurdy, who said Project Arbour was a “lengthy complex investigation, and an array of specialized police techniques and rescources were deployed.
During the “exhaustive” investigation, “extensive” criminal evidence was collected, he said. “We are talking about large-scale drug shipments at the multi-kilo level.”
While he admitted it is “difficult to estimate the value of the drugs seized at this point in the investigation.”
“However, I can confidently say that there is a substantial benefit to the health and well-being of the community.”