What started as an investigation into drug trafficking led to the discovery of an Edmonton-based identity theft operation that has victimized hundreds of people.
In April, police searched a residence near 202nd Street and 57th Avenue, which was connected to a man and woman who had been arrested as part of the drug trafficking investigation.
Police had already found stolen identity documents and bank cards in their vehicle, along with methamphetamine and a stun gun. Once inside the home, they found evidence of a "sophisticated identity theft operation," according to an Edmonton Police Service news release Wednesday.
Inside the home, police found computers and printers, stolen documents ranging from bank cards to utility bills, and mailbox keys. Among the items were:
111 stolen official identity documents belonging to 89 victims
85 stolen bank cards belonging to 57 verifiable victims
108 stolen miscellaneous cards belonging to 38 verifiable victims
hundreds of pieces of stolen mail, including banking and Canada Revenue Agency documents, belonging to approximately 200 victims
evidence of bank accounts and cellphone contracts obtained using victims' identities
seven mailbox keys and three parcel box keys
"This investigation highlights the significance of keeping a close eye on your mail and the importance of contacting your financial institution when your credit card doesn't arrive when you're expecting it," stated the news release.
"Mail theft may seem insignificant, but the impacts it can have on an individual can be devastating."
Police have laid more than 60 charges in total against a 32-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman.
Charges include possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon, forgery, trafficking of forged documents and possession of identity documents.