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The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit of the Alberta Sheriffs obtained a court order that took effect at noon on Sept. 9, giving them the authority to close the house at 341 20 Street N for 90 days.
The community safety order granted by the Court of Queen’s Bench gave sheriffs the authority to board up the house, change the locks and erect a fence around the property. The order bars anyone from entering until Dec. 9, 2020.
“Drug houses continue to be a scourge in our communities. All law-abiding Albertans deserve to feel safe in their own homes, and that is why our government will ensure law enforcement has the tools to protect our communities from drug activity and associated violence. I commend the Alberta Sheriffs and Lethbridge police for working together on behalf of the law-abiding residents of Lethbridge.”
SCAN began its investigation in October 2019, in response to multiple complaints from the community about drug activity. SCAN investigators confirmed drug activity was taking place after observing several drug transactions and a high volume of people visiting the property on foot and on bicycles.
During the course of the SCAN investigation, the Lethbridge Police Service executed three search warrants at the property, seizing drugs and a large volume of stolen property each time.
In December 2019, police found small quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl, stolen identification and stolen property worth a total of $6,000. The stolen goods included seven bicycles, nine bike frames, a large volume of bicycle parts and high-end commercial tools.
In a January 2020 search, police seized methamphetamine and fentanyl, cash, scales and stolen property worth a total of $9,000.
A third police search in May 2020 turned up drug paraphernalia, stolen cheques, more stolen tools and a stolen pontoon boat.
Between January 2019 and July 2020, Lethbridge police responded to 47 calls at the property, for various reasons.
On Aug. 26, SCAN obtained a community safety order against the property owner, who lives elsewhere. The order will remain in effect until Aug. 26, 2021 and SCAN investigators will continue to monitor the property for the duration.
The SCAN unit works with other law enforcement agencies to shut down properties being used for illegal activities. The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act gives sheriffs the authority to target problem properties through civil enforcement.
Since its inception in 2008, Alberta’s SCAN unit has investigated more than 5,800 problem properties and issued more than 80 community safety orders. The majority of complaints are resolved by working with property owners to keep criminal activity out of the community.