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AB:Marijuana makes up more than half of ALERT drug seizures

by papapuff » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:32 am

calgaryherald.com



Marijuana makes up more than half of ALERT drug seizures in Alberta

CLAIRE THEOBALD, EDMONTON JOURNAL 07.17.2017

Of the $8.65 million in illegal drugs the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) pulled off of Alberta’s streets, well over half of it was marijuana.

“Marijuana remains highly profitable for organized crime,” said Insp. Dave Dubnyk with ALERT. “It’s traded for other drugs, used for financing illegal enterprises.”

According to information in the 2016-17 ALERT annual report, investigators seized $5.4-million worth of marijuana last year.

Dubnyk said while ALERT officers may not be specifically targeting marijuana, it is often discovered during other investigations involving illegal drugs and organized crime.

“Marijuana by many may not be viewed as as harmful as other drugs like fentanyl or ecstasy or methamphetamine, but at the end of the day any drug activity is going to bring the associated violence as groups fight to control distribution and their territory,” Dubnyk said.


Even as the federal government moves to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by July 1, 2018, Dubnyk doesn’t believe it will reduce ALERT’s workload, saying in areas of the United States where marijuana has been legalized there is still an active black market as legal sources struggle to keep pace with demand.

“We’ve seen in other markets such as Colorado, for example, organized crime still has a very significant role in a marijuana black market. I would anticipate that would stay the same here,” Dubnyk said. “With the change in legislation, we are going to potentially see more legal marijuana grow operations go up and certainly more people possessing it, but (we are) still highly anticipating a large black market in marijuana production, selling and trafficking. As long as that black market exists, ALERT will investigate it.”

Dubnyk said officers are less concerned with the drug itself and more concerned with the illegal activity that surrounds it, including the level of violence gangs use to protect themselves and their territory from rivals.

Last year, ALERT investigators seized a record 249 firearms, a nearly 77 per cent increase over the number of guns confiscated the year prior.

twitter.com/ClaireTheobald

ctheobald@postmedia.com
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