The police received information from a confidential informant that W was trafficking drugs from a downtown apartment. A hallway surveillance camera was installed to capture people coming and going from the suite. The police then obtained a warrant to make two covert entries and observed large quantities of cocaine and marihuana in the suite. The police intensified surveillance on N, W and F who were frequently observed on the hallway camera. N was followed to a house where the police searched the garbage on multiple occasions locating documents that led them to believe the house was being used to store cash. The police then obtained a wiretap authorization and a warrant to install a video camera and a room probe in the downtown apartment. N retained Mr. Rice when all three men were charged with conspiracy, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and a criminal organization count. A trial date has not been set.
Mr. Rice has been retained by J in this case involving two homicide investigations in Alberta and British Columbia. On July 20, 2014, D was walking in a commercial neighbourhood in Edmonton with some friends when he encountered a group of males. A verbal exchange turned fatal when D was shot. On October 2, 2014, over three months later, P was found dead in a house in Richmond, B.C. which the RCMP believed had ties to the Edmonton investigation. With the aid of an informant wearing a wire, and two other wiretap authorizations in Alberta and British Columbia, the police allege that the homicide investigations eventually led to evidence of other shootings and home invasions. On March 28, 2015, J was charged with over fifty offences arising out of the Alberta homicide investigation. The case raises unusual complications arising from the extra-provincial implementation of a wiretap authorization under s. 188.1 of the Criminal Code. Pretrial trial motions have been scheduled in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Edmonton.
Mr. Rice has been retained by one of twelve defendants who were arrested following an investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and Calgary police. The police executed seven search warrants that resulted in the seizure of cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin valued at $5M. The investigation also consisted of a wiretap component that targeted specific suspects in the investigation. A total of 66 charges were laid including conspiracy, drug trafficking and organized crime offences. The police also seized property including luxury automobiles that is the subject of civil forfeiture proceedings. The police allege that a high level group was operating a sophisticated drug network throughout Calgary and other locations in Alberta. Investigators were quoted in the media as stating that the defendants include manufacturers, suppliers and street level traffickers. A trial date has been set for 2017 in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary.
During this trial on charges of conspiracy and drug trafficking the Crown Attorney called an RCMP officer to testify about conversations he had with the defendant when he was arrested on two occasions. The police officer had worked in the wire room during the wiretap investigation. The voice identification evidence was obtained during the arrests and subsequent detentions. Additional voice identification evidence was to be called from a detective with the Vancouver Police Department who was present when the defendant was interviewed as a victim in an unrelated assault two years previously. Mr. Rice objected to the evidence gathered during the arrests because it was obtained in breach of his client’s right to counsel under s. 10(b) of the Charter of Rights. He also objected to the testimony of the Vancouver detective because that evidence was disclosed during the trial in breach of his client’s disclosure rights under s. 7 of the Charter. The trial judge agreed and the voice identification evidence was excluded from the trial.
In this complex conspiracy and drug trafficking case Mr. Rice successfully argued that the police could not lawfully seize text messages from a cell phone provider by using a production order under s. 487.012 of the Criminal Code. The trial judge ruled that a wiretap authorization was required. The trial judge also ruled on a subsequent motion that the police could not seize data from a smartphone under the doctrine of search incidental to arrest. The police may seize a smartphone incidental to arrest but they are required to get a search warrant in order to search the contents. Mr. Rice has written about these important new developments in the law on this Blog: On The Wire.