RCMP mistakes could jeopardize $800K Kamloops drug bust | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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RCMP mistakes could jeopardize $800K Kamloops drug bust

Mistakes by the B.C. RCMP out of Kamloops may have jeopardized a lucky $800,000 drug bust made last year. 

The March 25, 2020 bust was never made public by B.C. RCMP Traffic Services - Police Dog Traffic Safety Unit although its officers uncovered seven kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of methamphetamine, 516 grams of fentanyl, and 254 pounds of cannabis, along with several cell phones and a GPS from a commercial truck at the Kamloops weigh scales. During an inspection, the drugs were found in the sleeper compartment. Police estimated the value of the drugs at $845,000.

All police had to do to keep the evidence in the case was maintain legal jurisdiction of the evidence, but failed several times to do so. 

In a March 30 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Justice Robert Punnett upheld an earlier court decision which prevented the RCMP from keeping the semi-truck which it had seized after a routine commercial vehicle inspection that uncovered large amounts of drugs.

Following the bust the RCMP then applied to the courts and was granted a detention order so it could keep the items it has seized for three months.

As the investigation continued, the RCMP appeared in court several times throughout the summer of 2020 asking the judge for an extension of the detention order.

However, mistakes were made.

According to the decision, in one instance the RCMP only left a voicemail and an email to serve the truck driver notice of an upcoming court application the day before it was to be heard. The Judge ruled it had to be done in person and three days in advance. 

“What is clear is the efforts to provide notice of the application were inadequate and out of time,” the Justice said.

In another incident, an application to extend the detention order was scheduled in court three days after it had expired.

“Therefore the court has lost jurisdiction,” the provincial court judge said, and the Supreme Court Justice agreed.

Where this leaves the case is hard to know. Legal sources say the Crown may have another avenue to pursue further detention, but if not, the drugs would be destroyed and the truck returned to its owner.

If a scenario leaves Crown prosecutors without any evidence, it’s unclear how it would proceed with the case.

One year after the truck was stopped, the RCMP arrested two men.

Court documents show the truck driver, Artan Caci, born 1954, and his son, Derart Caci, born 1986, were arrested just last month and both face four charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking. Court documents suggest they are from the Toronto area and one holds an Albanian passport. They are scheduled to appear in a Kamloops courtroom on April 8.

The Caci’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

— This story was corrected at 9:40 a.m. Wednesday, April 2021. An earlier version of the story incorrectly said the bust and subsequent police work was done by the Kamloops RCMP. The work was done by the B.C. RCMP Traffic Service - Police Dog Traffic Safety Unit, which is based in Kamloops, but are separate from the Kamloops RCMP.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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