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Ten charged with drug and weapons offences in motorcycle gang investigation

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Canada - EDMONTON - A three-month police investigation that resulted in dozens of drug and weapons charges against 10 people, including a full-patch member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, has barely put a dent in Alberta's thriving organized crime business.

"Unfortunately, this is not going to stop very much," Insp. Darcy Strang, the officer in charge of the special police enforcement unit that ran the investigation, told the media Thursday.

"There is a lot more where this comes from and we have a lot more work to do," said Strang as he stood beside a table of items police seized in searches last week, including a rifle, body-armour vests, evidence bags of cash and bags of drugs.

The investigation started more than three months ago, launched by Edmonton's Combined Forces and Special Enforcement Unit, a team that's investigating outlaw motorcycle gangs across northern Alberta.

The unit is part of Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT), made up of about 400 municipal police officers, RCMP officers and sheriffs, established in 2006 to fight serious and organized crime such as gangs, drug trafficking and child exploitation across Alberta.

"Back in 2009, we had three OMG (outlaw motorcycle gang) clubs in Alberta," Strang said. "We now have 23 OMGs in Alberta, therefore, they've grown exponentially ... Because they've grown so much, we've had to take a look at them seriously and determine what caused the growth and what activity they're involved in."

The Hells Angels are the most active outlaw motorcycle gang in the Edmonton area, police said. The club has approximately 360 members across Alberta, a number that remains fairly stable, Strang said.

Officers with search warrants were investigating cocaine trafficking in Edmonton when they simultaneously raided four homes on Jan. 30, two in south Edmonton, one in north Edmonton and one in St. Albert, police said.

Officers seized two rifles, a loaded 40-calibre Glock handgun with ammunition and other gun parts, four body armour vests, a working police scanner, a Hells Angels motorcycle club vest that contained illegal drugs in a hidden pocket, 12 ounces of cocaine, oxycodone pills and drug trafficking materials, two fake driver's licences, $25,000 cash and two vehicles, police said.

"All of these are evidence that these groups take their business very, very seriously, and they're a threat to public safety," Strang said. "In addition, the front door of one of the target's residences was barricaded and a surveillance camera was set up to view the front street."

Police laid 39 charges against 10 people.

Hells Angels member Blake Christie, 32, was the focus of the investigation that started in October. Christie was arrested at a north Edmonton home where police seized a loaded handgun with a defaced serial number, Strang said.

Christie is in custody and faces 11 charges, including possessing a loaded prohibited firearm and other weapons charges, possessing body armour, possessing drugs and possessing identity documents.

Nine more people face another 28 charges, police said in a news release. Kelly Kratky, 29, Denise Measor, 26, and Melvin Kratky, 26, are all charged with possessing body armour and drugs; Paula House, 39, is charged with possessing a firearm; Zanah Palani, 23, Hiwa Palani, 26, and Tamara Clarke, 28, are all charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Police have issued arrest warrants for Terri Huebner, 31, and Kendra Christie, 33, for six charges each related to the investigation, the news release said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

Police continue to investigate and might lay more charges, they said.


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Posted on 2/7/2014 1:13 PM | 1%er News

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