The Elk Point detachment of the RCMP is targeting drug traffickers in the Lakeland area, resulting in several significant arrests in Elk Point, Fishing Lake and the County of St. Paul, according to Const. John Spaans. As a result, there has been a significant reduction in gang activity in the area, he said.
“What we’ve done, specifically in Frog Lake, we’ve driven out pretty much all of the gang activity through our search warrants and really focusing on the primary offenders out there,” said Spaans, who handles communications for the Elk Point RCMP detachment. “Right now, gang activity and for the most part, drug activity, is at a minimum.”
He said the Indian Posse and Alberta Warriors were active in the region and now they are either lying low or have left town. Chief Clifford Stanley was unable to be reached for comment on the RCMP’s work in the region and band manager Greg Carter said he was unable to comment.
One of these gang members was the same one involved in a 2008/2009 New Year’s Eve car jacking, he said. In that incident, the suspected gang member, Tyler Jonnie, needed a ride to Edmonton and sat at a four way stop in Frog Lake and waited for an unsuspecting passerby and he hopped in the passenger seat with a shotgun. When that vehicle hit the ditch, a good Samaritan stopped to help out and that person got car jacked as well.
“There was no drugs involved in that incident but (Jonnie) was known to be involved in the drug community and he just recently pled guilty to robbery with a firearm and got five and a half years,” said Spaans. “It shows how desperate some of these drug guys and gang members can get, just to get a ride to Edmonton.”
He said RCMP are now watching the area carefully and they are able to identify early signs of gang activity starting up.
“A lot of times they spray paint their symbols on signs and buildings. They also wear certain types of clothing and certain colors. Each street gang in Alberta has its own unique set of apparel to identify them as part of a certain gang.”
He said one of the detachment’s bigger drug investigations resulted in the arrest of three members of a local family, father Omer Gamache and his two sons, Joseph and Bernie Gamache. The investigation involved the Alberta Sheriffs department and a number of different investigative surveillance techniques, including surveillance aircraft. He said that the investigation took Elk Point RCMP beyond the boundaries of its detachment into the County of St. Paul and up into Bonnyville.
Bernie Gamache is scheduled to enter his election and plea on Dec. 23 in relation to the charge of possession of controlled substances. Omer and his wife Margie Ann Gamache, a co-accused, have pled not guilty to drug-related charges and will be facing trial on May 16, 2011, while Joseph Gamache will face a preliminary hearing on May 10 for charges of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, possession of stolen property and careless storage of firearms.
Parrish Tung, mayor of Elk Point, said he is more than satisfied with the recent efforts of the RCMP.
“Our Staff Sgt. Brad Lazicki has taken policing to a higher level because he has been quite aggressive in terms of crime prevention in our region,” said Tung. “As a mayor, I am just thrilled that they are doing such a great job, every one of the members.”
Spaans explained there has been a big focus in the Elk Point RCMP detachment on having officers apply for search warrants through the courts and as a result, the detachment has obtained 45 search warrants in the past year to execute on houses, cars, banking and telephone records.
“There is a bit of a skill to write them and to have so many written is out of the ordinary. It’s not that easy to get a search warrant but through different investigative techniques, we are able to get enough information that the courts are authorizing them and recognizing our investigations,” said Spaans.