It started with the biggest crystal meth bust in the state of Utah and has ended with 46 charges in Calgary, as an organized crime operation has been busted in ‘Project Arbour.’
Law enforcement officials from Calgary police, RCMP, ALERT and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were at CPS headquarters Thursday to discuss the over year-long investigation.
“Based on my experience, this would be one of the larger distribution groups I have worked on personally,” ALERT Calgary Staff Sgt. Barry McCurdy said.
In October 2016, three Calgary men were arrested after a truck was found loaded with more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of $10 to $15 million.
It’s believed the men were couriers for the larger group and after a long investigation, several homes were raided in February, and five arrests were made.
A garage in the Rosscarrock was allegedly used to produce fentanyl and steroid pills, while a suspected cannabis resin manufacturing lab was also raided in Cougar Ridge.
Along with the arrests, a pill press with the ability to produce 18,000 pills an hour was seized, as well as other drugs, five firearms, two vehicles and body armour.
Twenty-five-year-old Allistair Chapman, a former AJHL hockey player with the Calgary Royals, is considered the ringleader of the group and is facing 17 charges.
Twenty-six-year-old Blais Delaire is facing 12 charges and is accused of having a role in a May 2017 homicide in Calgary.
On May 21, Colin Reitberger and Anees Amr – considered to have no role in organized crime – were gunned down in a Calgary Superstore parking lot.
A few weeks later, 20-year-old Christian Ouellette was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta with the CPS Homicide Unit said Ouellette is the sixth alleged member of the ring.
“Ouellette was in our opinion the enforcer of this group and obviously that played out,” he said. “The role that Delaire played in our opinion and what we’re alleging is that he facilitated the access to the handgun that was used.”
Investigators are still looking for the driver of a red Dodge Durango who dropped off the accused at a gas station following the murders and Schiavetta said Delaire has not been ruled out as that potential driver.
Police believe the motivation for the killing was an ongoing drug dispute between Reitberger and Ouellette and Amr was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Twenty-five-year-old Drew Mann, 24-year-old Matthew Spiers and 32-year-old Bryan Livingston are also facing charges.
“I think given their lack of criminal history in the past, I think it would be a fairly substantial surprise to them,” McCurdy said about the arrests, adding the members were found individually.
McCurdy said the group would bring MDMA into the U.S. and bring back cocaine and methamphetamine, but wouldn’t elaborate on if there are any connections with Mexican drug cartels or other specific drug organizations.
McCurdy added along with selling to the Calgary and surrounding areas, the group was also trading in British Columbia.
“They worked their way up fairly quickly, and they had contacts with other groups, there’s some blanks there that we obviously aren’t aware of,” he said.
He couldn’t put a street value estimation on the amount of drugs seized, but did say it was in the millions.