Originally published in the Whitecourt Star
Four people from the Woodlands County area are facing a combined 122 charges after a large drug and gun bust, police announced on March 23.
Whitecourt RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) concluded a two-month investigation with their execution of search warrants on March 14 at a Whitecourt home and a Woodlands County rural residence.
Police seized more than $30,000 worth of drugs — 310 grams of cocaine, 77 Percocet pills and 119 methadone pills — as well as three handguns, three shotguns and 16 rifles. They also seized a cocaine press and $8,580 cash from drug deals.
“A bust like this is quite significant for Whitecourt,” said ALERT communications director Mike Tucker. “None of those guns were lawfully possessed and we believe they pose a significant public safety risk.”
Tucker said that the nine days between the raid and its announcement was the result of tying up the investigation’s loose ends.
“There could be elements that are still ongoing,” he said.
According to ALERT’s news release, “in at least three instances firearms were lawfully acquired before being diverted into the hands of suspected criminals.”
The investigation began with a tip about alleged drug trafficking, Tucker said.
“This began with information that was received on this group. We believed that they were trafficking cocaine in the Whitecourt area and some of the surrounding communities. We worked hand-in-hand with detachment there to develop intel and enforcement strategy,” he said.
Tucker declined to disclose how many officers and agents were involved in the investigation.
Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak praised this collaboration between the local RCMP and ALERT.
“This investigation and outcome is a great example of how ALERT works collaboratively with the Whitecourt RCMP Detachment to address serious crime issues. Our community appreciates and values the work that ALERT does throughout the province and in our community to keep our residents safe,” she said in a news release.
The 122 charges are spread amongst four people.
Jeffrey Smith, 30, from Whitecourt faces 29 charges; Clayton Taylor, 23, from Woodlands County faces 45 charges; and Alyssa Leakvold, 25, from Woodlands county faces 45 charges.
Dustin Jennings, 24, of Fort Assiniboine faces an additional three charges for firearms trafficking offences.
They are slated to appear at Whitecourt Provincial Court on March 28.