By Jensen, Randy on November 6, 2020.
The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit of the Alberta Sheriffs shut down another alleged crack house on the city’s northside on Thursday.
The house, located at 71 Stafford Rd. N., will be closed and locked up for 90 days, and the property will remain under supervision until October of next year.
SCAN obtained a Community Safety Order from the Court of Queen’s Bench that took effect at noon on Thursday after over a year of police investigation and numerous community complaints about the address.
During the course of the SCAN investigation, the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) also dealt with significant drug activity on the property. In the first half of 2020, multiple LPS traffic stops of individuals leaving the property turned up significant quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and other illegal substances.
Police executed a search warrant at the property on March 11 and found methamphetamine, fentanyl, pill containers, a weigh scale and other drug paraphernalia.
SCAN investigators secured on July 28 a previous Community Safety Order against the property owner, who lives on the premises. This order restricted visitors to the property for 60 days but allowed the owner to remain in the home.
Despite this, surveillance confirmed drug activity continued at the site.
Insp. Mike Letourneau of Alberta Sheriffs said this time around the property owner would not be able to stay on the premises while the term of CSO is served.
“Clearly they were cutting drugs, using drugs and trafficking drugs from this property,” explained Letourneau. “The owner was given multiple warnings that the activity on the property was continuing (after the initial CSO). The traffic had actually picked up at the property. Community complainants were phoning in regularly giving us updates. To give you an idea of the scope of this – in four days SCAN investigators noted 156 people to this property, which is extreme. As a result of further investigations, we attended court again on Oct. 23 and we were granted a Community Safety Order which allowed for us to fence, board up and secure this property for a period of 90 days.”
The property in question is in visual range of Lethbridge Christian School. Letourneau confirmed the nearness of the drug house to the school put a stronger emphasis on shutting it down than otherwise might be seen in these types of investigations.
“It amps up the priority for both the Lethbridge Police Service and for us,” he said, “but there are so many other factors to consider as well: like the community that is calling in that are directly impacted in this immediate vicinity.”
Letourneau hoped this CSO might mean the end of things for this particular drug house, but he cautioned it might not be.
“Once the fence comes down there is a possibility of the homeowner comes back to this property,” he said, “and if that occurs, we will be investigating this property all over again. For now, she (the owner) is gone, and we don’t know where she has gone to.”
Sgt. Rob Saar of the LPS Crime Suppression Team said he was happy the investigation of this property was ultimately successful, and felt the closure would give local community members a much-needed break.
“Previously we have been here a significant amount of times that has resulted in a lot of charges,” Saar confirmed. “This has been a heavily trafficked area, and the complaints in the neighbourhood, we love them – because they helped us determine where we needed to be. (Closing this down), should put a significant dent in what is going on the area, and the residents will notice it.”
– With files from Ian Martens
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