An undercover officer with a Calgary police street team was working a bar on 17th Avenue SW which is designated as a high intensity drug trafficking area. Cst. P asked M if he knew where she could “get any soft”. M gave her D’s number. The constable called but there was no answer. She then sent a text: “Hi..it’s Kait. Met your friend M. Can you hook me up?” There was no reply. The constable spoke to M again asking where his friend was. M said he’d get in touch with him but she never saw M again. Cst. P called the number again. A male answered. Cst. P said: “I got your number from M.” The male said his name was D. Cst. P asked “if he was free to meet” and D said in about an hour. They later met at a strip mall where D sold 2.3 grams of cocaine to the undercover officer for $200. D was arrested a week later and charged with drug trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime. A court date is pending.
The police had a motel under surveillance. They were on the look out for P armed with a Canada wide arrest warrant. Four men left a suite around midnight and ran to a waiting vehicle. One of the men matched P’s description based on clothing and general appearance. The police stopped the vehicle. But P was not in it. The police saw a bag sticking out from under the front passenger seat. They searched the vehicle without a warrant and seized the bag that contained over half a kilogram of cocaine, oxycodone and marihuana. They also seized a large quality of cash from B who was Mr. Rice’s client. All three men were charged with possession of the drugs for the purpose of trafficking. B was also charged with possessing the proceeds of crime. The defendants did not assert a privacy interest in the vehicle and did not challenge the lawfulness of the search and seizure under s. 8 of the Charter of Rights. The Crown Attorney, however, had a formidable task to prove possession. Who knew the drugs were under the seat? Not even the driver could be tagged with constructive knowledge. He was not the registered owner of the vehicle. And there were no fingerprints on the bag to establish manual handling and a measure of control. The Crown Attorney was eventually left holding the bag when all charges were withdrawn on the trial date.
The RCMP received informant information that B had been transporting drugs into Fort McMurray on the Red Arrow bus from Edmonton. They set up surveillance at the Fort McMurray bus depot. On the day of arrest B was met at the bus depot by S and they left together in S’s car. The police stopped the vehicle on the highway into Fort McMurray and seized $30,000 worth of heroin and oxycodone from B’s shoulder bag. During the preliminary inquiry, the investigating constable conceded to Mr. Rice in cross-examination that the police had no information that B was carrying drugs on the day of arrest and they therefore did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle on the highway. The Crown Attorney was faced with the prospect that a trial judge might throw the drugs out of court. On the other hand, B was faced with the possibility that a trial judge might admit the drugs into evidence irrespective of the unlawful arrest. The Crown Attorney offered a deal whereby B pleaded guilty to simple possession of the drugs and was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment. All other charges were withdrawn. As Kenny Rogers might say – you’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.
The three defendants in this conspiracy and drug trafficking case were denied bail and remanded into pretrial detention. The Crown Attorney then withheld disclosure for almost two years. While the case languished in the Provincial Court of Alberta and the defendants languished in the Edmonton Remand Centre, it came to light that the police officer who had sworn the affidavits for the wiretap applications had committed suicide. Mr. Rice was contacted by H who was alleged to be the “food boss” responsible for the distribution of cocaine to street level dealers. Mr. Rice brought a bail application on behalf of H which was granted in the Court of Queen’s Bench. After H was released from custody, Mr. Rice then brought a motion for legal costs in the Court of Queen’s Bench. After that application was granted, and the government was ordered to pay the costs of the defence, the Crown Attorney stayed the charges.
An undercover police officer made a telephone call to a suspected drug dealer posing as a buyer. He set up a meeting and bought cocaine from the dealer in the parking lot of a Calgary gas station. The police then set up surveillance on the dealer and his associates and followed them throughout the city while they met briefly with people at strip malls and convenience stores. The police believed that the meetings were consistent with drug transactions. The surveillance eventually led to an apartment building. The police obtained a search warrant. When they smashed through the door of the apartment, J bolted for the sliding glass doors and jumped from the balcony in his stocking feet. N and T were arrested in the living room. The police found cocaine and cash on the coffee table. J was arrested a short distance from the building. The police said that footprints in the snow led them to him. J was not the tenant of the apartment. He retained Mr. Rice. At the conclusion of the preliminary inquiry, Mr. Rice argued that mere presence in the apartment could not in law put J in joint possession of the cocaine. The preliminary inquiry judge agreed and J was discharged.