As part of an effort to address drug-related crime and violence in the city, Calgary police spent the last year targeting a network of up to 500 people known as The Family, which culminated in a dozen arrests, including the alleged leader.
Police took notice of increasing violence in 2015 and say over the last 18 months, more than 80 violent incidents are believed to be connected to the group known as The Family, which investigators say preyed on vulnerable people and those suffering addiction.
"Our goal has always been to identify and hold to account those who prey on vulnerable Calgarians, and to not criminalize addiction," police said in a release.
"More than 500 people are believed to be involved or connected to ‘The Family’s’ drug distribution network as either sellers or buyers. The group is comprised of individuals with addictions and other vulnerabilities, who are primarily homeless and mostly reside in and around the downtown area."
The investigation led to search warrants being served on Wednesday at four homes in three quadrants of the city, along with two vehicles.
The homes were in:
- The 0-100 block of Lake Sylvan Close S.E.;
- The 500 block of Eighth Street N.E.;
- The 1100 block of Eighth Avenue N.E., and;
- The 1700 block of 26th Avenue S.W.
A number of items were seized during the searches, including:
- 1,006 grams of methamphetamine;
- 232 grams of fentanyl;
- 233 grams of crack cocaine;
- 282 grams of powder cocaine;
- 630 grams of GHB;
- $34,791 in cash;
- Drug trafficking paraphernalia such as scales, and;
- Weapons – crossbows, knives and bear spray.
Lawrence Chukwka Orubor, 52, of Calgary, who police allege is the leader of The Family, is charged with instructing drug trafficking and violent offences for a criminal organization, as well as other related charges.
He is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 6.
Eleven other people believed to be connected to the distribution of drugs with outstanding warrants were also taken into custody, "to deal with their current matters before the courts, before being connected with support services," police said in a release.
The Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Team also paired up with the Bear Clan Patrol to offer support and resources to more than 100 vulnerable people in the downtown area believed to be involved in the group. The Elbow River Healing Lodge, the Friendship Centre, the SORCe and Be The Change YYC, were also engaged to offer immediate resources and support.
"This operation sought to address the ongoing drug-related crime and violence throughout the downtown core and we believe we have been able to make a significant impact in addressing these issues," said Dist. 1 GIU Staff Sgt. Jodi Gach. "Although the amount of drugs seized does not appear record-breaking, we believe a large volume of drugs were distributed in small quantities across this vast network, never staying in one place for long.
"It was equally important that we worked with our community partners to ensure vulnerable people connected to this organization had support and access to services."
Anyone who is suffering from or affected by addiction issues can contact the following resources: