Police have seized more than $2 million worth of illegal drugs as the result of searches at three southern Manitoba properties.
The operation represents the largest drug bust in Brandon Police Service history and targeted "high level" dealers.
"This seems to be the biggest one that anyone can recall," BPS Chief Keith Atkinson said of the bust, adding that he expects the drug seizure will have a significant impact on the local drug trade. "I think that it will be a substantial dent into it."
The Brandon Sun first learned of the operation on Tuesday, and initial reports indicated that 125 pounds of marijuana and two kilograms of cocaine worth a total of $800,000 were seized.
But it turns out that was just part of a much bigger investigation — on Friday, police announced that a total of $2 million worth of ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine and psilocybin were seized from three separate rural properties.
Two of the three properties were searched on Monday — one near Gilbert Plains and the other near Kemnay.
Dauphin RCMP assisted with the raid at the property near Gilbert Plains.
There, police arrested three suspects and seized 270 pounds of marijuana and two kilograms of cocaine. They also found a large amount of money and numerous firearms.
Reid Dykun, 58, and Garret Dykun, 25, both from the Gilbert Plains area, are charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, unsafe storage of firearms and possession of proceeds of crime.
Brian Decosse, 29, of Calgary was also charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and with possession of proceeds of crime.
As of Friday, all three men were said to be in custody in Dauphin, but they’ve reportedly been granted bail and will appear in court on Dec. 18.
As previously reported by the Brandon Sun, a property near Kemnay was also searched on Monday.
Three more suspects were arrested and police seized a large amount of Canadian currency, a pound of ecstasy and two firearms.
Jayant David Venn, 33, a Kemnay-area resident, is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, possession of proceeds of crime and unsafe storage of firearms.
Court documents have identified the guns as a pair of rifles.
Venn has been granted bail and given a court date of Dec. 13.
A 29-year-old woman, also a resident of the Kemnay area, is charged with possession of proceeds of crime and unsafe storage of firearms.
The other male was released unconditionally.
Then, on Thursday, a 30-year-old woman was arrested during a search at another property near Brandon. A small amount of marijuana and psilocybin, and a firearm, were seized.
The woman was released with a Dec. 13 court date on charges of possessing marijuana and psilocybin.
The names of the women have not been released.
Atkinson and BPS spokesman Const. Ron Burgess didn’t go into details about the ongoing police investigation.
The chief said that officers were involved in the investigation for "quite a period of time" but didn’t disclose its methods, such as whether informants or undercover officers were used.
There’s no official word on where the drugs originated, or details of where they were specifically found at each property. It’s believed, though, that the drugs were intended for sale in the Westman area.
One source said that the investigation targeted a drug network, but Atkinson said that it didn’t seem to involve any known gang.
Rather, he described it as a group of organized individuals.
No details of the investigation were shared during the court appearances of the various suspects.
While Atkinson praised officers for their work and described the drug seizure as significant, he also noted that the drug trade tends to fill any void left by arrests.
"In that illicit activity, where one source dries up, another one will surface," Atkinson said.