News | DrumhellerMail - Page #14
Last updateFri, 02 Jun 2023 7am

Area emergency responders send support to battle Alberta wildfires

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As wildfires continue to ravage northern Alberta, emergency responders from Drumheller and surrounding areas are gearing up to provide support to those already battling out of control blazes in the Edson, Grand Prairie, Slave Lake, and other areas.
During the Monday, May 8 Drumheller Committee of the Whole meeting, Protective Services director Greg Peters shared the Town was prepared to send resources to help support firefighting efforts; on Friday, May 12 the Drumheller, East Coulee, and Rosedale halls announced it had deployed one fire engine and four members-Captain Jeff Gerlinger, senior firefighter Doug Stanger, and firefighters Savanna Richardson and Phil Thompson.
Fire personnel are not the only supports being sent north. Drumheller RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Rob Harms tells the Mail, “I can confirm that on Sunday, May 7, Reserve Constable Art Hopkins of Drumheller deployed to the fires; he is assigned to the High Level fires and is supporting the local detachment with general duty policing, assisting with evacuations, and more.”
R/Cst Hopkins has since returned back to the detachment as of Thursday, May 11.
While no other detachment members are scheduled to deploy at this time, S/Sgt Harms says notice has been sent regarding potential future deployment of officers from the Drumheller detachment. He adds any deployment will be done to avoid impacts on the detachment and to ensure “appropriate and effective policing” in the communities it serves.
Wheatland County announced on Wednesday, May 10 it had received a request for support from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to support ongoing firefighting efforts.
A total of 14 fire personnel, as well as seven apparatuses, were deployed to assist in the Buck Creek, Grand Prairie County, and Fox Creek areas; these fire personnel and apparatuses were dispatched from the Standard, Rockyford, Rosebud, and Dalum Fire Departments.
Starland County shared it would not be sending apparatus or personnel support.
Kneehill County deployed director of Emergency Management Debra Grosfield between May 5 and May 12; upon her return, Deputy Director of Emergency Management Dan Marsellus was then deployed and remains on scene.
At this time, the County is not deploying any fire personnel or apparatus due to ongoing risks posed by high winds and dry conditions, and a full fire ban which is in effect in the county.
The wildfires prompted the Alberta government to declare a state of emergency on Saturday, May 6 as some 29,000 people were evacuated from their homes in affected areas, and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced during an update on Monday, May 8 eligible evacuees over the age of 18 will receive a one-time payment of $1,250, with an additional $500 for each dependent child under the age of 18.
While evacuation orders for Yellowhead County, located west of Edmonton, were lifted on Thursday, May 11, some 18,000 people remain displaced from their homes.
On Thursday, it was also announced Canadian Armed Forces troops would be deployed to assist with efforts in the Grande Prairie, Fox Creek, and Drayton Valley areas.

Drumheller RCMP, partners lay charges relating to Drumheller Institution drug investigation

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Drumheller RCMP and partner organizations have executed warrants and lay charges in relation to a drug investigation at the Drumheller Institution.
On Sunday, March 26, Drumheller Institution reported illicit drone activity near its facility as well as an unknown person in the area. As this person was being approached, they fled the scene, however, left behind a backpack.
The backpack contained 141 grams of methamphetamine, 32 grams of hash oil, a scale, two cell phones, and other items consistent with drug trafficking.
On Wednesday, May 10, an RCMP operation led by Drumheller RCMP General Investigation Section (GIS) resulted in two separate search warrants being executed in relation to this investigation, one in Rosedale and one in Calgary.
As a result of the search warrants, RCMP seized three drones, four cell phones, a taser, brass knuckles, Canadian currency, suspected methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl, along with other items consistent with drug trafficking.
John McConnell, 41, a resident of Calgary, was arrested and charged with trafficking a controlled substance; possession for the purposes of trafficking; proceeds of crime; and drive while disqualified.
After a Judicial Interim Release Hearing, McConnell was released to appear in Alberta Court of Justice in Drumheller on Friday, June 9.
Tawny Markiewicz, 31, a resident of Morrin, and Jeffrey Morse, 41, a resident of Drumheller, were arrested during the operation as a result of an observed drug transaction. Both were jointly charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.
Morse was also charged with Failing to Comply with a Release Order.
Markiewicz was released from custody on an Undertaking and is to appear in Alberta Court of Justice in Drumheller on Friday, June 16.
Morse was remanded into custody by a Justice of the Peace during a Judicial Interim Release Hearing and appeared in Alberta Court of Justice in Drumheller on Friday, May 12.
RCMP note additional charges are pending regarding this matter as the investigation continues.
Drumheller RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Rob Harms stated, “This is an in-depth and complex investigation involving the RCMP and our valued partners of Correctional Services Canada and Calgary Police Service. Several RCMP support units also played a key role in the investigation and included Drumheller General Duty members, Southern Alberta Crime Reduction Unit, Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit, Digital Forensic Services Unit, Special Investigations Unit, and Special Operations Unit. This investigation, and its results, demonstrates our effective partnerships, capabilities, and dedication to safe and secure communities in Alberta.”

Drumheller RCMP Arrest 3 Persons for Drug Trafficking Offences

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On May 11th, 2023, Drumheller RCMP General Investigative Section (GIS), assisted by Drumheller General Duty members, the Southern Alberta Crime Reduction Unit, and Calgary Alert, concluded a 6 month long investigation into drug trafficking activities in and around the Town of Drumheller.

At approximately 3:00 pm on May 11th, RCMP members from Drumheller, conducted a traffic stop on a Dodge Caravan in Drumheller. Approximately 14 grams of suspected Crack Cocaine, Canadian currency, and other items indicative of trafficking drugs was located and seized. Arrested was:

Richard NATH (44) and Erica DEVOE (36) both of Drumheller whom were jointly charged with:

Trafficking a Controlled Substance
Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking
Possession of Proceeds of Crime

The investigation also led to the arrest of Travis KOWALCHUK (34) of Drumheller whom was found in possession of Approximately 6 grams of suspected Fentanyl, Canadian Currency, and other items indicative of trafficking drugs. KOWALCHUK was charged with:

Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking
Possession of Proceeds of Crime
Fail to comply with a Release Order

NATH, DEVOE, and KOWALCHUK were all released on Undertakings and are scheduled to appear in Alberta Court of Justice in Drumheller on June 23, 2023 to answer to the charges.

If you have any information regarding criminal activity in your neighbourhood, including the trafficking of drugs, please contact the Drumheller RCMP at 403.823.7590 or your local detachment/Police Service. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at or by using the "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.


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