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by Brad Aubin
Approximately two-and-a-half kilograms of suspected cocaine and over 4,200 suspected methamphetamine tablets were taken off of local streets last week, thanks to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) and the West Nipissing Police.
The two policing agencies collaborated on a three-month investigation, dubbed Project Renmark, which culminated last week with three local busts and the arrest of three people. The investigation focused on a group of individuals suspected of distributing large quantities of cocaine in the Municipality of West Nipissing, police say. Three search warrants were executed on Wednesday, May 16, in separate residences in Sturgeon Falls, Verner and Field.
During the searches, police found and seized a substantial amount of suspected cocaine, thousands of suspected methamphetamine tablets, as well as suspected marijuana, psilocybin, oxycodone tablets, Demerol tablets, two cocaine presses and $97,000 in cash, along with a stolen snowmobile. The street value of the drugs seized is estimated at approximately $280,000.
Among those charged is Jesse Allen, age 35 of Sturgeon Falls. He faces counts of Conspiracy to Traffic in a Scheduled 1 Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purposes of Trafficking, and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.
Gilles Lepage, age 61 of Field, is charged with Conspiracy to Traffic in a Schedule 1 Substance, 3 counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purposes of Trafficking, 2 counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.
Eric Lacasse, age 41 of Saint-Colomban, Quebec faces charges of Trafficking in a Scheduled 1 Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purposes of Trafficking, and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.
All three were taken into custody pending a bail hearing. Lacasse has since been released on bail, while Lepage and Allen remain in custody until their bail hearing, scheduled for May 29.
Detective Staff Sergeant Tony Fletcher of the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau – North, says the bust will make a dent in the drug trade in West Nipissing.
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The OPP and the WNPS discovered a huge amount of cocaine (seen above) and two bags filled with cash (seen left) during three searches in West Nipissing on May 16.