July 12th, 2024

Record bust removes $1 million in drugs from Lethbridge streets

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 26, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh, Inspector Brad Lundeen (ALERT), Inspector Russ Lawrence (LPS), and Superintendent Marc Cochlin (ALERT), display the seizure of over $1-million dollars worth of drugs, Wednesday at the Lethbridge Police Station.

ALERT and Lethbridge Police Service have seized over $1 million worth of drugs and cash, in what is believed to be one of the city’s largest drug busts with record amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine.

ALERT made the seizure on Dec. 20, 2022 after searching two homes and vehicles with the aid of LPS. Four firearms were also seized, one a prohibited sawed-off shotgun, and another was a loaded handgun that had previously been reported stolen from Redcliff. One of the homes was located in the London Road area, while the other was a garage in the neighbourhood of Winston Churchill, and two vehicles were also searched and seized.

Patrick Rodney, 34, has been charged with possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime, unlawful storage of a firearm, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, knowingly possessing an unauthorized firearm, knowingly possessing a prohibited weapon, possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition, possession of a firearm obtained by crime, possession of a firearm contrary to prohibition, and breach of probation. Rodney was previously investigated and charged by ALERT in August 2014. He will remain in custody with his next scheduled court appearance for today in Lethbridge court.

“What you see before you today marks one of the largest drug busts in our city’s history. Over $1 million worth of drugs has been taken off our streets, which certainly will have a positive impact, not only on our citizens in Lethbridge, but also the citizens in many of our surrounding communities,” said LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh during Wednesday’s press conference. “The success of this investigation is a testament of the strong model of teamwork, collaboration, and partnership that exists within the ALERT structure.”

Drugs seized in the bust include 5.2 kg of methamphetamine, 3.2 kg of cocaine, 1.6 kg of fentanyl powder, 418 grams of ketamine, and 35 grams of psilocybin mushrooms.

“If it is not the largest, it is without question certainly the most impactful. Organized crime is a complex community threat. This goes beyond drugs, our healthcare system, our social supports, family life, and sense of neighbourhood safety. The drug trade is inherently violent, and traffickers resort to extreme lengths to protect their business interests and will not hesitate to put community in harms way,” said Inspector Brad Lundeen with ALERT. “ALERT also seized nearly $80,000 in proceeds of crime, this money will be referred to Alberta’s civil forfeiture office.”

Gaining traction as the largest drug bust, officers note larger busts are becoming more common.

“I can say consistently now, over at least the past year, I am seeing seizures at wholesale volumes as it relates to cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. To see these drugs together at the same time, historically you would not see that and now I am seeing it very regularly,” said Lundeen. “Fentanyl is deadly. The impact to the community of Lethbridge and surrounding communities will save lives. Approximately 100 Albertans die every month as a result of opioid consumption and the vast majority of that is fentanyl-related. Getting the street drugs, this harmful substance, off the streets is significant.”

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), and it is always anonymous.

“Dealers, they are harming the community. Unfortunately, it is a business when you look at it, and when they look at the business and the return on their investments, they don’t care about people dying,” said Mehdizadeh. “But the message is, they need to start shaping up, because we are not going to stop our enforcement.”

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Thank you!!!! I applaud the efforts of ALERT and LPS! Keep up the great work . . . take back our streets, parks and neighbourhoods!