RCMP operation in Iqaluit leads to six drug and booze-related arrests

Operation Vegas leads to charges against five men and one woman


An operation by undercover investigators with Nunavut's

An operation by undercover investigators with Nunavut’s “V” Division, seen here, has led to the arrest of six people in Iqaluit on drug and alcohol charges. (FILE PHOTO)

A week-long undercover operation in Iqaluit called “Operation Vegas” has led to the laying of charges against five men and one woman, all of whom now face a variety of counts related to drug trafficking and bootlegging in Nunavut’s capital city, police said March 30.

The operation, which took place between March 19 to March 24, followed “numerous complaints” from the public about drug trafficking activities at local businesses in Iqaluit, the RCMP said in a news release.

“This activity has a negative effect on the safety and reputation of Iqaluit and its people,” the release said.

During the operation, undercover police officers purchased marijuana on nine occasions at bars or storefronts in Iqaluit. The officers also bought liquor from a local residence on two occasions.

As a result of the investigation, the following people face charges:

• Alex Flaherty, 30, keeping liquor for sale, under Sec. 84 of the Nunavut Liquor Act;

• Putuliq Qumak, 35, two charges of trafficking in marijuana, a charge of unlawfully selling liquor under Sec. 84 of the Nunavut Liquor Act and numerous breaches of probation;

• Marie-Eve Harvey, 34, trafficking in marijuana;

• Saimo Kopalie, 24, trafficking in marijuana and breaches of probation;

• Peter Takpani, 25, trafficking in marijuana and breaches of probation; and,

• Augustinus Peter, 21, trafficking in marijuana.

More arrests and more charges are likely, police said.

Qumak, who was remanded into custody, makes his first court appearance at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on April 16.

The other five were released by a justice of the peace or judge on various conditions and will appear at the Nunavut Court of Justice May 7.

The RCMP said it’s always seeking assistance from the public for any information about the sale and importation of illegal drugs or contraband liquor to Nunavut.

“The RCMP will continue to work at fighting the harmful effects of drug and liquor related activities in our communities through enhanced enforcement and education. We do this because we remain concerned for the safety and well being of all our citizens and we see operations such as this [are] one way we can offer communities the very best protection,” said Supt. Hilton Smee, the criminal operations officer for Nunavut’s V Division.

If you have information that will reduce the impact of illicit drugs and alcohol on the lives of Nunavummiut, the RCMP asks you to contact the RCMP V Division drug section at (867) 979-0123 or call Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 222-8477(TIPS), where you can remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

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