Drug busts hit Waskaganish, Mistissini

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A crackdown on drug trafficking this month culminated in arrests and seized contraband in two separate communities.

The Eeyou Eenou Police Force (EEPF) executed the most recent bust in Waskaganish on May 19. After months of investigation, the Waskaganish detachment was granted a warrant to search a vehicle and residence in the community. Officers had received allegations that the vehicle in question, a black pickup truck, was being used to transport illegal substances from the south so that they could be sold in the community.

Just before 5 pm that day, investigators stopped the truck on km 44 of the Waskaganish access road. Police seized close to 300 grams of a white substance alleged to be cocaine they said is worth $70,000, along with drug paraphernalia. Officers apprehended one male and two females between the ages of 27-31. They were released soon after with an August court date.

The operation was the second attack on the drug trade orchestrated by the EEPF in the past month.

On April 23, eight residences in Mistissini were searched as part of a sting dubbed “Project Amisk.”

“This investigation was led by the EEPF, who then sought the assistance of the RCMP’s Aboriginal Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (A-CFSEU), and the Sûreté du Québec,” said EEPF Director Reggie Bobbish. “We worked together for 24 months, collecting intelligence on these traffickers.”

Nearly 50 officers descended on the community for the operation, which ended with four arrests. Lina Coonishish, 41, of Mistissini, appeared in court on May 8 to face charges of drug trafficking and remains in police custody. The other three community members who were arrested were later released, but may face charges at a later date. Cocaine, marijuana, cash and firearms were seized from seven of the residences searched, but officers were unwilling to disclose the amounts taken.

With several details regarding the bust being withheld by police due to ongoing investigation, the outcome of Project Amisk remains cloudy. However, the EEPF was quick to point out the crucial role that community members played in both operations.

“Without the help of the public we would not have reached our goal today,” said Bobbish. Amisk was initiated after complaints from the community gave police the information they needed to take action against local dealers.

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