Drug bust most significant in over decade, say RCMP

1002dru!_new Crack cocaine, marijuana, cash and drug paraphernalia Seized from two residences in Hay River on Feb. 3, 2016 February, 2016 Hay River Photo courtesy of the RCMP

Crack cocaine, marijuana, cash and drug paraphernalia
Seized from two residences in Hay River on Feb. 3.
Hay River
Photo courtesy of the RCMP

RCMP in Hay River have made another significant drug bust – seizing powdered and crack cocaine, marijuana, and cash.

RCMP executed search warrants at two residences on Feb. 3 at around 8 p.m.

During the searches, the police seized approximately 100 grams of powdered and crack cocaine, 1.4 kilograms of marijuana, cash and drug paraphernalia.

Cpl. Greg Morrow, commander of the Hay River detachment, said the seizure is probably the largest and most significant in Hay River going back 10 to 15 years.

“We’ve had seizures that might exceed the amount of marijuana or cocaine that’s been seized but I would call this more significant just based on the totality of what we located,” he said.

Morrow said the seizure will have a “huge impact” on the illegal drug trade in the town.

As a result of the seizure, 26-year-old Antonio Mennillo and his stepfather, 55-year-old Christian Girard, both of Hay River, have been charged with a number of offences relating to drug trafficking.

According to the RCMP, Mennillo is facing a total of five charges, four of them under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The charges include trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of the proceeds of crime, which is an offence under the Criminal Code.

Girard has been charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of the proceeds of crime.

Mennillo appeared before court and was remanded into custody. His next court appearance was to have been on Feb. 8 in Yellowknife Territorial Court.

Girard appeared before court and was released on an undertaking. His next court date is May 16 in Hay River Territorial Court.

Drug value estimated at $50,000 to $65,000

Morrow said it is difficult to give an exact street value for the seized drugs, explaining what’s charged for illegal drugs on the street changes every day based on, like anything, supply and demand.

“We estimate that the street value would be anywhere between $50,000 to $65,000 depending,” he said.

As for the amount of cash, Morrow noted the counting had not been completed as of Feb. 5.

“But I can say that it’s in excess of $17,000 in cash,” he said.

Morrow said the latest drug seizure came as a result of information provided by the public and efforts from front-line officers in the detachment.

“They see what’s happening in the community. They see the drug trade, and they’re very eager to go out and get on top of investigations, speak to the public and hold these people accountable,” he said. “So it’s a combination of everything but yes the public certainly played a huge part in helping us do this, and I also think the members went above and beyond in terms of work ethic and looking out for the community to get this done.”

It was the second significant drug seizure within a couple of weeks.

On Jan. 20, the RCMP seized approximately 30 grams of crack cocaine, 30 grams of marijuana, about $6,000 in cash, and drug paraphernalia from a residence.

As a result of that earlier seizure, a 19-year-old resident of Hay River was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a knife for a dangerous purpose, and possession of the proceeds of crime.

Morrow would not comment on whether the two seizures are connected.

“When you see activity like this, anything that can be categorized as drug activity probably has some sort of links to it but we’re not going to confirm in the public whether or not there was a direct link,” he said. “Because of the investigation, we don’t want to jeopardize anything that way.”

-Paul Bickford