A third North Okanagan man has been arrested in connection with a major drug investigation with ties to Western Canada and the U.S.
Police in Regina made the announcement Tuesday morning in regards to an effort they call Project Faril, in which four men have been arrested, and three of the four in custody as a result of the investigation are from the North Okanagan. The other is from Golden.
“As a result of this investigation, 216 kilograms of cocaine was seized by law enforcement agencies as part of Project Faril,” said Sgt. Paul Dawson, Saskatchewan RCMP spokesperson.
“A seizure of 151 kilograms near Swift Current, in March of 2010 is also related to this alleged criminal organization. All totalled, 367 kilograms of cocaine was seized, and this represents the largest seizure ever by the Regina Integrated Drug Unit in the province of Saskatchewan.”
Police made a significant bust at homes in Coldstream and Silver Star on Oct. 1.
The estimated street value fluctuates greatly and is dependent upon many factors, said Dawson.
The value of the cocaine would be in the range of $16.5 million. The previously announced seizure of $1 million worth of ecstacy brings the wholesale value of drugs (kilogram) seized to be in the range of $17.5 million.
Also seized as part of this investigation was $340,000 in Canadian currency as well as three all-terrain vehicles, two pick-up trucks, one mini-van and firearms.
Project Faril is a multi-agency drug investigation first launched in April of 2011.
Information learned as a result of this investigation has now led to charges dating back to December of 2009.
The project involved more than 100 law enforcement investigators from B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
As well, representatives the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Agency have been involved in this project.
“The significance of this is the model of cooperation we have not achieved before at this scale,” said Chief-Supt. Randy Beck, Saskatchewan’s F Division criminal operations officer.
“The co-operation between U.S. agencies and the RCMP was discussed in Washington last week as a model that incorporated integration, intelligence sharing and operational coordination that we haven’t seen before.”
Troy Ernest Swanson, 25, from Coldstream, was arrested Oct. 14, in Vernon. He is charged with importation of cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, participating in a criminal organization and conspiracy to import cocaine.
Swanson was returned to Saskatchewan Oct. 18, and first appeared in Regina Provincial Court Oct. 19.
Brock Ernest Palfrey, 25, from Silver Star and William Bruce Larsen, 51, of Coldstream, were arrested Oct. 1 in the North Okanagan and originally charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and export ecstacy. The pair are now facing charges of importation of cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine and participating in a criminal organization.
Dawson said that, according to the Criminal Code, it does not have to be a specific criminal organization (named group) in order to be charged with the offence of participating in a criminal organization.
Ronald Charles Learning, 28, from Golden, was arrested in Salmon Arm the weekend of Oct. 1 and was charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to export ecstacy.
Swanson, Palfrey and Larson will make their next court appearance today in Swift Current.
Learning will be appearing in Swift Current on Nov. 7.