Three men have been arrested in connection with what the RCMP is calling “one of the most significant organized crime investigations in the territory to date.”
The investigation has been going on for most of the year, targeting a supply pipeline bringing illegal drugs into the territory, according to Yukon RCMP Cpl. Calista MacLeod.
“It’s significant mainly due to the substantial quantity of drugs seized and also because it is targeting an importation and distribution network,” she said.
“The importance of it is that we’re reducing harm to our Yukon communities by getting large quantities of drugs out of circulation and making it more difficult to bring it into the territory.”
MacLeod said the police have confiscated kilograms of marijuana and cocaine destined for the Yukon.
At a press conference yesterday, police displayed a fraction of the haul, including multiple bags of marijuana and cocaine along with weapons.
“This is just a sampling of the evidence that we have seized and gathered to date,” MacLeod said. “It comes from a variety of locations in both Yukon and British Columbia.”
The arrests come after a joint investigation between the two RCMP divisions.
The confiscated drugs would produce at least 57,000 joints marijuana and at least 33,000 lines of cocaine, assuming the drug is not cut and mixed with another substance before sale, MacLeod said.
Police are not releasing the street value of the drugs collected.
“The problem remains that this is very difficult to estimate the amount of illegal drugs that are brought into our Yukon communities,” she said.
“We do know that we are only able to intercept a relatively small amount of the drugs that are coming into our entire area and there are far more people using drugs and bringing them in than there are those trying to stop it.
“Importers and dealers can be very creative and determined to sell drugs and they’re assisted in many ways by the people they sell to.”
MacLeod said police need Yukoners to help bring down the demand for drugs.
“Support from a healthy community including friends, family, co-workers and others will make a difference in the amount of enforcement required to disrupt the supply,” she said.
Many of the specific details of the investigation are being kept out of public view until the accused have their day in court. MacLeod said the investigation is still ongoing and evidence is still being processed.
She would not say specifically where or when the drugs and weapons were located.
All three men are from the Lower Mainland.
Jesse Ritchie, 34 was arrested in Whitehorse and is charged with five counts of trafficking in cocaine, two counts of trafficking in marijuana and one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
Asif Aslam, 37, and Matthew Truesdale, 35, were arrested in Surrey, B.C. and have been charged with two counts each of trafficking cocaine and one count each of conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
Charges of possession of the proceeds of crime are pending against two other men. Their names are not being released until they make a court appearance Feb. 26.
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