RED DEER, Alta. - A police spokesman says members of a violent B.C.-based gang have been quietly moving into Alberta in part to take advantage of a population with a lot of money and partly out of fear of growing violence on their home turf.

Police said Monday that a leading member of the Red Scorpions gang and three associate members have been arrested in central and southern Alberta.

Search warrants executed in Airdrie, Red Deer and Calgary last week focused on the gang's drug-trafficking operation and its infiltration of the Alberta market.

Police also say firearms and drugs were seized, including a loaded semi-automatic handgun, a stolen shotgun with ammunition, an illegal cocaine lab and various illegal narcotics.

"The reality is that many of B.C.'s gang members are coming to Alberta to escape violence and threats from their own province," said Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team. "Because in gang life, there are only three ways out — death, jail or taking the long, arduous task to exit the game.

"I think this gang saw an opportunity to distribute drugs in the Red Deer area. There is a lot of disposable income in Alberta. I think it's important to note, however, that most communities ... in Alberta may have gang members operating."

The Red Deer RCMP, the Airdrie RCMP, Calgary Police Services and ALERT were all involved in the investigation.

The Red Scorpions gang is alleged to have been involved in the mass shooting of six people in a highrise condo in Surrey, B.C., in October 2007.

A verdict in that case is expected in October.

Cory James Lesperance, 29 and originally from British Columbia, is alleged to be at the centre of the drug-trafficking network in Alberta. He was arrested at a home just outside Red Deer and faces a total of 14 drug- and weapons-related charges.

Three others were arrested in Airdrie and Calgary. Robin Joseph Stewart, 52, faces eight charges; Nicholas David James White, 21, faces six charges; and Amber McLeod, 23, faces four charges.

(CKGY, The Canadian Press)


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