Charge added to long list against group charged as part of cocaine sting

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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Six of eight people charged in connection with a cocaine trafficking sting in St. John’s last spring had another count of fraud over $5,000 added to their charges Wednesday.

Darrell Frank Tucker, Michelle Pike, John Hutchings, Glen Hussey, David Rypkema and Patrick Dooley were represented in provincial court by their lawyers when their cases were called.

Crown prosecutor Shawn Patten told Judge Colin Flynn the evidence packages from police are expected to be available to lawyers in September. As a result, he and defence lawyers agreed to set the case over until Sept. 24.

The six each already face several charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud, extortion, fraud over $5,000, public mischief and impersonating someone else.

Kurt Churchill and Leroy Thomas also face charges in connection with the sting. They face charges of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and several firearm-related offences. Churchill is also charged with three counts of uttering threats, one count of intimidating a police officer and additional firearm charges.

They’ll be back in court at a later date.

All eight were arrested in April after officers seized cocaine, a loaded handgun, cash and other items they say are connected to organized crime.

The arrests were made as part of Operation Battalion, a joint forces wiretap investigation involving the RCMP and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary combined forces special enforcement unit targeting high-level cocaine traffickers in the St. John’s area. Over a span of six months, it expanded into Vancouver and Montreal and involved members of the combined forces unit in Vancouver and the RCMP’s Montreal drug section.

Police said search warrants were executed on March 14 at St. John’s International Airport, at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal and at homes and vehicles in the St. John’s area.

Investigators seized $350,000 in cash, cocaine, a loaded 9-mm prohibited handgun, ammunition, brass knuckles, a stun gun and a 2012 Toyota Tundra truck.

Tucker is believed to be one of the other six who allegedly planned and staged a fake motor vehicle accident in February.

People were taken to hospital from the staged accident scene, but investigators believe they were all part of the conspiracy and that there were no innocent victims.

Police say the accident was staged on Feb. 12 at 11:48 p.m. in the area of Groves Road and Gilles Place.

All eight suspects are said to know each other.

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: RCMP, International Airport, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport

Geographic location: Montreal, Vancouver, February.People Groves Road

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