Alberta hopes to serve prison terms for those involved in an illegal alcohol network

“Hopefully the rest of the companies at least, if they’re really doing it illegally, will be an alarm bell for them”

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Edmonton police cut an illegal alcohol network earlier this week, and the president of the Alberta Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) said she hoped the defendants would face jail time, “for setting them an example.”

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Ivonne Martinez, president of ALSA, said police have been investigating liquor store robberies for years now, and it’s good to see the charges finally being filed.

“I know it takes a long time to put the issues together, so if this is just the beginning, this is a very good start,” she said.

Hopefully the rest of the companies at least, if they’re actually doing it illegally, will serve as an alarm bell for them. They shouldn’t do that and the fines could be very heavy and their licenses may be revoked in parallel.”

On Tuesday, Acting Sgt. David Graham of the Edmonton Police Department told the media that 10 people, including three business owners, have been arrested, with a total of 40 charges brought in connection with their investigation into the illegal distribution network. He added that three more arrests were expected at the time, with only one suspect charged yet.

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Martinez said she now hopes that prosecutors can take their case in court and obtain prison sentences for those involved.

“The very stressful and frustrating part of all of this system is that they might get caught and charged, but that might not lead to anything in terms of prison time, so hopefully the courts can bring a case to give them the maximum that is allowed under,” Martinez said.

The EPS investigation resulted in the confiscation of approximately $130,000 of liquor, 350,000 unmarked cigarettes worth approximately $35,000, 1.49 kilograms of cocaine worth up to $185,000, 730 fentanyl pills worth approximately $73,000 and 270 pills Xanax valued at approximately $5,400. Items were seized via search warrants over several months at many homes and businesses across Edmonton.

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Edmonton police have charged 10 people with distributing unmarked liquor, drugs and cigarettes.  About $130,000 in liquor, and $35,000 in cigarettes, fentanyl, cocaine and Xanax pills were recovered in the process that registered 40 shipments.
Edmonton police have charged 10 people with distributing unmarked liquor, drugs and cigarettes. About $130,000 in liquor, and $35,000 in cigarettes, fentanyl, cocaine and Xanax pills were recovered in the process that registered 40 shipments. photo provided

Martinez referred to the burglaries taking place in liquor stores and said she was “delighted” that police had been able to bring charges to some of the “gangs” targeting liquor stores in the city. She said that people steal alcohol and then sell it or trade it with illegal drugs or weapons. In this case, she added, some companies buy the stolen product.

“We try to minimize (theft) as much as possible by having good security systems inside stores, hiring plainclothes guards, and being able to have cameras that catch intruders if they come in,” Martinez said.

“We know we are not robbery free and we hope to continue working with the police and give them everything they need in order to reach those individuals who are committing these robberies and thefts.”

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In a statement emailed to Postmedia, Taylor Mann, director of public affairs and corporate investigations for Sundial Growers, which owns and operates liquor stores such as Wine and Beyond and Ace Liquor, said the company “praises” EPS’s commitment to addressing alcohol theft. and illegal distribution networks.

“But there is still more work to be done,” Mann said. “Sendial will continue to work with all relevant stakeholders to enhance the safety of front-store employees, our customers, and our communities.”

Graham said they will work with Alberta Gaming and Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to ensure the law is enforced at the additional companies involved.

“AGLC recognizes that liquor store theft is a serious problem for many licensees. AGLC said in a statement emailed to Postmedia:

ktaniguchi@postmedia.com

twitter.com/kelentaniguchi

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