Police funnel traffic into one lane on the William R. Bennett Bridge Thursday morning. RCMP were on the lookout for a convicted drug dealer who failed to show up for sentencing in Kelowna.
The West Kelowna man was out on bail after pleading guilty to three drug-related charges in the middle of his trial Dec. 9. When he failed to show up for court Thursday morning, Justice Al Betton ordered a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.
Police believe he's trying to flee the country. Mounties armed with spike belts set up a partial roadblock on the William R. Bennett Bridge and scoured Kelowna's airport. Police from detachments throughout the Okanagan and beyond set up roadblocks and searched for the 36-year-old in numerous locations. They were still looking for him late in the afternoon.
Collins's father, Peter Collins, 62, drove to the courthouse before his son's 10 a.m. sentencing and asked to withdraw the $100,000 bond he'd posted to spring Neil's release. Police detained him there for obstructing justice. They also arrested an 18-year-old West Kelowna woman for the same offence.
The elder Collins is before the courts on two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking after RCMP pulled over a vehicle on the Okanagan Connector in August. Inside a bag were 8.5 ounces of cocaine and an ounce of heroin, police said.
His son Neil was on trial for 20 offences. Midway through the three-week hearing, he pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking, and possessing hundreds of prescription pills stolen from a Westside pharmacy.
His lawyer, Cory Armour, and Crown counsel Monica McParland worked out a plea deal that recommended he serve 3 1/2 years in prison. As part of the deal, the Crown agreed to release him from custody to get his affairs in order. He was ordered to wear the bracelet, obey other restrictions and submit the $100,000 surety.
Police arrested Collins in May after raiding a penthouse in the Shannon Lake area. Officers said they seized nearly eight ounces of heroin, 4.5 ounces of crystal meth and four ounces of marijuana bud, as well as a half-litre of the date-rape drug GHB and a quarter-litre of liquid codeine.
Police also found the prescription pills, thousands in cash and a loaded 9-mm Glock handgun.
Court heard thieves broke into the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy and stole drugs days before the raid. Officers were watching Collins at the condo complex at 2210 Upper Sundance Dr. when Adrienne Barregar left the complex on May 22.
Barregar had drugs on her and gave police a statement, said Crown counsel Monica McParland. Officers nabbed Collins soon after as he and his girlfriend, Christie Ethier, left the complex separately. RCMP got a warrant and searched Unit 1202.
A tip led them to another suite, where the resident turned over cash and led them to a storage locker containing prescription drugs, about six ounces of "pebble" heroin and four ounces of methamphetamine. Arno Lundin told police Collins had given him the drugs hours earlier.
The week before, Collins told a probation officer he carried a loaded 9-mm Glock handgun to protect himself and his family, she testified. He's prohibited from possessing weapons but has access to firearms and may be armed, RCMP said.
Once he's arrested, Collins will likely lose his plea deal and undergo a full trial with extra charges.