May 3, 2016.
In the last 10 days of April, the Crime Reduction Unit of the Blood Tribe Police Service executed search warrants which took drugs with a local street value of $7,000 out of circulation.
“These busts help bring awareness and are a step in the right direction, that’s for sure,” said Sgt. Jason Colon, with the Blood Tribe Police Service.
On April 19, $4,000 worth of suspected crack cocaine, 16 fentanyl pills worth $800, and a small amount of marijuana were seized in a residence in Standoff. Eight days later, $2,000 worth of marijuana was taken from a residence in Moses Lake.
Both properties were entered in order to execute search warrants.
The work needed to execute a search warrant is substantial, says Colon.
“We put a lot of hours in before actually going to execute it, planning and making sure it’s done in the safest manner for the public as well as the officers involved,” he said.
While the tip line set up by the BTPS and Crime Stoppers do garner information about drugs, Colon says much of the success the police service has had comes from the hard work of the two plainclothes members of the Crime Reduction Unit. Both the tip line and the CRU were added to BTPS’s arsenal in January 2015 as a means, primarily, to fight fentanyl overdoses.
“We have a couple of officers in the Crime Reduction Unit, who are very passionate about getting the drugs that are hurting the people off the streets. They really do a good job in investigating and going from there,” said Colon.
Five adults and two youth were arrested in the two drug busts. Facing charges which include possession with purpose of trafficking in the April 19 incident are Bradley Jay Roasting of Calgary, who also is charged with possession of proceeds of crime; and Nona Marie Wells and Katrina Annaleise Bertsch, both of Calgary. In the April 28 incident, Cyles Chief Body and Vaughn Oka, along with three youth, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, were all charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds obtained by a crime.
The search warrants in the two incidences also netted $2,371 in Canadian currency.
Wells and Bertsch were both released on recognizance with the condition they do not return to the Blood Reserve.
“If they don’t have a place to live out here and they’re bringing the product in, (keeping them off the reserve) is something that should be imposed in most cases to help prevent this from continuing,” said Colon.
BTPS not only wants to raise awareness about the harm of drug addictions, but also wants to let traffickers know that getting caught on the reserve can come with a heavy jail term.
Kyle Mitchell Saddleback, of Maskwacis, was arrested in January and charged with numerous drug-related offences. At that time, 109 grams of suspected crack cocaine with a local street value of $10,900, and 359 tablets of suspected fentanyl with a local street value of $17,950 were seized. Because of previous offences, Saddleback had been ordered not to return to the Blood Reserve. He pleaded guilty to two charges of possession for purpose of trafficking. In court in March, he was sentenced to three years in a federal penitentiary.
“The Blood Tribe Police is very pleased that severe sentences are being levied upon those being convicted in relation to the distribution of drugs in the community,” said a news release approved by BTPS Chief Lee Boyd.
“Every time we (make an arrest) it brings awareness to the problem, to the issue. This is an issue that is everywhere all the time. It’s not that we’re ever going to completely stop it, but we’re going to try and raise awareness and hopefully stop people from becoming addicted. That’s our main goal: we don’t want people dying from overdoses, and things like that,” said Colon.5