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ALERT details arrests and record-setting $15M drug seizure from Operation Coyote
CALGARY — Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) officials are releasing more details around a record-setting, $19.5-million bust announced Wednesday.
A two-year investigation dubbed Operation Coyote resulted in the seizure of $15 million worth of drugs including cocaine and fentanyl, $4.5 million in cash and assets and 13 firearms.
Seven people were also arrested.
The international investigation involved ALERT, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) and a number of other law enforcement agencies.
Along with being the largest-ever seizure by ALERT, the seizure of 250,000 fentanyl pills is believed to be the largest ever in Canada.
In addition to the pills, an 81-kilogram shipment of cocaine, which was destined for Canada, was intercepted in Texas.
“Project Coyote sought to dismantle major drug supply lines that were believed to be responsible for the importation of cocaine and fentanyl into Alberta,” read a release from ALERT. “More than 30 search warrants were conducted over the course of the investigation.”
Some of the items seized include:
- 250,000 fentanyl pills
- 98 kilograms of cocaine
- 5 kilograms of methamphetamine
- 7,626 methamphetamine and ecstasy pills
- 13 firearms
- $1.3 million in cash
- $3.2 million in restrained assets, including houses and bank accounts
The fentanyl was seized from a Calgary apartment on Feb. 16, 2018, however no one was arrested at the time. That led to the launch of the investigation, which ultimately uncovered an alleged cocaine importation scheme and distribution network.
The 81 kilograms of cocaine was seized in Houston, Texas on May 18.
“The Texas arrest was the catalyst for ALERT to identify the alleged financiers and persons responsible,” reads a release. “ALERT alleges that Warren Lowe oversaw an extensive drug distribution network that spanned from British Columbia to Ontario."
Based in Calgary, 53-year-old Lowe is one of seven people now facing criminal charges relating to organized crime, drugs, and firearms.
ALERT alleges Lowe set up the cocaine supply lines and sent Elizabeth Fisher, a 49-year-old Calgary woman, to Texas to facilitate it.
Fisher was arrested when the cocaine was seized in Houston and has been in custody since then.
She is scheduled to appear in a Houston court on March 2, 2020, and a Canadian warrant has been issued for her arrest.
Five other people are also facing charges, including
- Richard Fisher,44, from Calgary
- Emanuel Amha, 30, from Calgary
- Olivier Kenge, 52, from Calgary
- Cole Leblanc, 30, from Calgary
- Victoria Pon, 29, from Vancouver
Other agencies involved in the investigation include:
- Calgary Police Service
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC)
- Forensic Accounting Management Group (FAMG)
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-British Columbia
- Harris County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office
- Canada Border Services Agency
- Toronto Police Service
- Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-Greater Toronto Area
- Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis
- Tsuut’ina Police Service
- A number of RCMP detachments, including Banff, Toronto Airport, C Division (Quebec), Washington D.C. Liaison Office, and National Weapons Enforcement Support Team
Anyone who suspects drug or gang activity in their community should call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.