Charges laid in Markerville-area drug bust

Charges have been laid following an extensive search of a property that’s been at the centre of a drug trafficking investigation.

Charges have been laid following an extensive search of a Markerville-area property that’s been at the centre of a months-long drug trafficking investigation.

Police carried out the search on a rural residence on April 15 in response to reports of suspicious activity taking place. As a result, they found a glut of drugs, weapons and stolen property.

Police took three men and one woman into custody, while Child Protective Services removed a four-year-old child from the property. The child was parented by one of the four accused.

Michael Alois Schaab, 42, faces 26 charges in total, including: possession of a controlled substance (cocaine); two counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking (methamphetamine, GHB); seven counts of failure to comply with undertaking; possession of a loaded, restricted firearm; possession of a weapon obtained by crime; possession of a prohibited weapon without a licence; two counts of possession of a firearm — knowledge of unauthorized possession; six counts of storage of a firearm in an unsafe manner; four counts of possession of property obtained by crime; and storing explosives in an unsafe manner.

Gary Daniel Ritchie, 37, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon without a licence, possession of a firearm while prohibited from doing so and possession of a controlled substance.

Schaab and Ritchie were scheduled to make separate court appearances in Red Deer last week. Two of the four people taken into custody from the Markerville-area property were released without being charged.

The search warrant and subsequent arrests were an indication of the effectiveness of the area’s Priority Crimes Task Force — a coalition of Central Alberta RCMP detachments dedicated to minimizing criminal activity in the region.

“RCMP have received a number of complaints about suspicious activity occurring on this property,” said Sylvan Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Gary Rhodes. “That led the task force to take a close look at the property, and we initiated a targeted investigation in late October of 2014, focusing on drug trafficking and property crimes.”

More than 100 RCMP officers from various units and detachments took part in the April 15 search.