TWO PEOPLE arrested in an alleged drug trafficking ring, believed to have been based in Terrace, pleaded guilty in a Kelowna court earlier this week.
On Monday morning, Lawna Leigh Chamberlain, 39, and Jason Gerald Tamblyn, 28, pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine and ecstasy in Terrace, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Kelowna during a seven-month period between February and September, 2008.
In September 2008, more than 50 police officers in Terrace and Kelowna executed 12 search warrants in those communities as they closed in on a drug trafficking ring they had been investigating for a year, said police at that time.
The searches in Terrace included four houses – on the 2100 block of Kalum St., the 4900 block of Haugland Ave., the 2600 block of 1st Ave. at Lakelse Lake and the 3900 block of Simpson Cres. – plus one hotel room and one industrial shop at the 6100 block of Kilby Road, and resulted in the arrests of three men.
Three firearms, three vehicles, a small quantity of marijuana and $10,000 cash were seized, along with two locked safes – one of which was found to be empty and the other to contain two loaded handguns, said Const. Annie Linteau spokesperson for RCMP E Division headquarters in Vancouver at that time.
Police alleged that the Terrace-based drug trafficking ring brought drugs—cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana—from Vancouver to Kelowna for repackaging before it was redistributed in the Terrace and Prince Rupert areas.
The investigation began in Terrace in 2007 when officers with the Prince Rupert North District drug section received a tip that led to the identity of a 19-year-old Terrace man alleged at that time to be the director of the drug trafficking ring, but later determined to be “the organizer of the northern part” of the ring.
He was arrested after he finished writing an exam at Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert, where he was studying to be an electrician, and a 24-year-old man was also arrested at work.
In the Kelowna area, officers converged on five homes and a nightclub, which has since closed, and arrested two men aged 39 and 56, and two women aged 34 and 36.
More than half a kilogram of cocaine, $7,000 cash, two rifles, two handguns, and two vehicles were seized during the execution of the five residential search warrants in Kelowna.
Six flaps of cocaine, two dozen ecstasy tablets and half an ounce of powdered cocaine were allegedly seized from the nightclub.
Prior to the execution of the search warrants in Terrace and Kelowna, police had seized about 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, half a kilogram of ecstasy and half a kilogram of marijuana.
The cocaine seizure – about one kilogram of powdered cocaine – happened when police found it in a concealed compartment inside a sub woofer in a Mercedes Benz SUV after it was stopped for speeding on Highway 97C, east of Merritt, on Aug. 21, 2008.
Out of the nine people arrested in Terrace, Kelowna and Prince Rupert, two were known to police – a 47-year-old man from Terrace and one person in Kelowna, said Linteau in 2008.
Police also said charges were being recommended against four other people from Kelowna, Terrace and Vancouver.
Out of the four, one 42-year-old was arrested in Prince Rupert, said Linteau, addingg she would not elaborate on where the remaining three lived.
The charges that Chamberlain and Tamblyn pleaded guilty to on Monday stem from the investigation that led to the 2008 searches. Their specific roles in the drug trafficking ring were not indicated in court.
Pre-sentence reports have been ordered for the pair.
Chamberlain and Tamblyn, who remain on bail, are scheduled to return to a Kelowna courtroom the week of Oct. 3 for sentencing.
—with files from Kelowna Capital News