Police call bust a major blow to local drug trade


Police call bust a major blow to local drug trade

At 24, police say Parvinder Singh Bagri enjoyed a comfortable life on the outskirts of Calgary, living mortgage-free in a $1.5-million home with a six-car garage and luxury cars for his cohorts.

But now police say they have seized much of his wealth as the result of a months-long investigation by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams into his alleged involvement in a cocaine and marijuana trafficking operation. It’s reputed to be one of the biggest in the city.

Police say that for several years, he and three others from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia sold B.C. drugs in and around Calgary.

It’s alleged the group then paid off Bagri’s brother, parents and girlfriend to take ownership of the items they purchased, in an effort to hide the vast profits made by selling drugs. All have now been charged.

“This group is a major player in the local drug trafficking scene,” said Insp. Gerry Francois.

“By dismantling their organization, I think we’ve had a major impact on the supply of drugs coming into this city. You could say we’ve cut the head off the snake.”

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team said Wednesday that throughout their investigation, police seized 2.7 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of marijuana, guns and a Taser. They’ve also used proceeds of crime legislation to seize the $1.5-million home in Rocky View County, $166,000 in cash, jewelry worth $18,000 and seven vehicles worth $110,000 in all.

Police continue to try to connect the money gained from drug sales and its use to purchase items with the proceeds of crime. “We’ve also employed a forensic accountant to do that, too.” said RCMP Calgary integrated proceeds of crime Sgt. Stephen Scott. “It’s very detailed and it takes quite a bit of time to go over,” he said.

Investigators believe this group is not a member of any established gang, but say in the drug trade there are often loose associations with street gangs. Scott said the seizure is one of the largest in recent years. Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King said it can be difficult for police to prove proceeds of crimes charges in court.

“There is still a tremendous amount of forensic accounting that has to be done to actually prove it in a court of law,” he said.

While seizing property can be a serious deterrent to criminals, when the qualities of money are so large, the loss of their property is factored in as “just a cost of doing business” for them, said King.

King said this operation appears to be at a wholesale level. “The tragedy is that within a couple months, there will be a new wholesale trafficking of marijuana and cocaine (in the area),” said King. Parvinder Singh Bagri, 24, of Rocky View, and B.C. residents Kalwarn Singh Dhillon, 23, Apraj Singh Bassi, 22, and Keerit Singh Brar, 20, face multiple drug trafficking, firearm, criminal organization and proceeds of crime charges. Rajvinder Bagri, 22, Gurdawar Bagri, 50, and Jatinder Bagri, 52, all of Rocky View, and Kanwal Gill, 36, of Chestermere face charges of laundering the proceeds of crime. Parvinder Singh Bagri is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 2 in Calgary.

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