Drug bust in Whitecourt nets 22 firearms, cocaine

Three loaded handguns, three shotguns, 16 rifles and more than $30,000 worth of drugs, largely cocaine, were seized in a drug bust in Whitecourt, 180 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Three suspects from the Whitecourt area and one from Fort Assiniboine face a total of 122 weapon and drug charges, said the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team.

Investigators believe at least three of the firearms were legally acquired before being diverted into the hands of the suspected criminals.

A cocaine press and $8,580 in cash were also seized.

The charges come after a two-month investigation involving local RCMP.

The bust illustrates the need for ALERT in battling drug crime in rural Alberta, said Whitecourt Mayor Maryann Chichak.

"Our community appreciates and values the work that ALERT does throughout our province and within our community to keep our residents safe," she said in a news release Friday.

ALERT is funded by the Alberta government and investigates serious and organized crime.