A seven-month investigation into illegal drug trafficking in the Prince Albert area has resulted in the arrest of 11 people police say have connections with outlaw motorcycle gangs, and the seizure of a significant amount of cash, drugs and weapons.
Three full-patch members of the FreeWheelers outlaw motorcycle gang, and eight other people, are accused of involvement in illegal trafficking of a significant amount of cocaine and marijuana in Prince Albert and the surrounding area, police said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
The FreeWheelers group has been operating in Prince Albert since May 2019 and has connections to the Hells Angels chapter out of Saskatoon, police said.
RCMP Superintendent Ted Munroe said black market marijuana is not uncommon.
"Obviously any time there's any kind of change to laws, et cetera in regards to the distribution and selling of a product that used to be illegal, there's going to be that continued black market effect to undermine the legalization and what stores are doing." Munroe said.
Craig Mushka, the inspector in charge of the criminal investigation division at the Prince Albert Police, said this is one of their bigger investigations into outlaw motorcycle gangs.
"The results are significant," Mushka said. "So although we've had some previous experience with them I don't think that we've seen anything of this magnitude."
Police said the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit recently searched 13 homes in Prince Albert, the surrounding area and Saskatoon as part of Project NORSE — an investigation which involved nearly 100 officers from the Prince Albert Police Service, the Prince Albert RCMP and other police agencies.
The raids led to the seizure of approximately $224,000 in drugs, nearly $87,000 in cash, six vehicles worth an estimated $116,000, three rifles and a shotgun, police said.
Police said the drugs and drug equipment seized included 596 grams of cocaine, a cocaine press, over nine kilograms of cannabis bud, 33 cannabis plants, and more than two kilograms of individually packaged cannabis byproducts, including butter, resin, hash and vape.
As well, police said marijuana was being grown with a valid Health Canada medical licence and being diverted onto the black market — and a significant amount of the marijuana was being sold at the pound level to buyers in Prince Albert.
In total, the 11 accused — who range in age from 19 to 57 — face 73 Criminal Code charges, most related to trafficking and drug possession.