Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams have made a number of arrests and seized a huge cache of drugs after a raid on a Calgary-based drug operation.
ALERT says the year-long investigation, dubbed Project Offshore, has netted over $4M worth of fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine.
The operation was conducted with the help of the Calgary Police Service, RCMP, Lethbridge Police, Alberta Sheriffs, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, Seized Property Management Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
Authorities say that Project Offshore was initiated to take down a drug trafficking group that was allegedly involved in wholesale distribution and money laundering.
A total of 11 homes were searched in Calgary and 11 suspects have been arrested and charged with more than 125 criminal offences.
"This was a complex, robust investigation that deployed a variety of specialized resources and police techniques," said CPS Insp. Patty McCallum, who works in Calgary's ALERT section.
ALERT seized 15,757 fentanyl pills and 28 kilograms of methamphetamine in the operation. It is the largest seizure of fentanyl in the agency's history and the meth seizure is more than double the previous record in the whole province.
The operation also seized:
- 6.7 kilograms of cocaine
- 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine
- 75 kilograms of cocaine buffing agent
- three cocaine conversion labs
- 11 handguns
- body armour and various weapons
McCallum says the seizure of the firearms comes as a relief for investigators. "Some of these handguns had serial numbers removed and some were converted to shoot fully automatic. Guns in the hands of drug dealers puts everyone at risk. This reinforces the close relationship between drugs and violence."
ALERT also seized $523,232 in cash proceeds of crime and blocked off a million-dollar mansion, owned by Simon Yuen, in north Calgary. It's believed the home was purchased with funds acquired through illegal means.
Yuen was allegedly part of a group that also included Guan Chen, Chang Yong Yun and Benham Fayaz, all considered to be key figures in the drug trafficking community.
Charges have been laid against the following as a result of the bust:
- Jonathan Aaron Bejo, a 25-year-old man from Calgary (eight charges)
- Guan Chen, a 27-year-old man from Calgary (21 charges)
- Jia Nan Chen, a 29-year-old woman from Calgary (nine charges)
- Danny Ho Ming Chui, a 36-year-old man from Calgary (nine charges)
- Hue Thi “Kim” Do, a 39-year-old woman from Calgary (one charge)
- Behnam Fayaz, a 31-year-old man from Calgary (31 charges)
- Jamal Mohamud, a 29-year-old man from Calgary (15 charges)
- Chang Yong Yun, a 37-year-old man from Calgary (11 charges)
- Lanssa Yousuf, a 28-year-old woman from Calgary (12 charges)
- Simon Sui-Sang Yuen, a 34-year-old man from Calgary (nine charges)
- Jian Nan Zhao, a 28-year-old man from Calgary (one charge)
Kathleen Ganley, Alberta's Justice Minister and Solicitor-General, says the bust is a perfect example of how ALERT is such a vital tool for law enforcement.
"Project Offshore is proof that ALERT's integrated approach works. Although the criminal organization targetted in this case was based in Calgary, it allegedly trafficked drugs and laundered money throughout Alberta."
McCallum says that it's anyone's guess how much in the way of drugs are in Alberta and they are not expecting to be able to seize every bit.
"This certainly puts a dent in the abilities of the drug traffickers but, more importantly, it ensures there is safety in the communities and the law enforcement agencies."
Yuen, Mohamud and Jia Chen have evaded police so far and warrants have been issued for their arrest.
Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact their local police detachment or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).