R. v. LAA [Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Red Deer December 2021]

SUMMARY: In the spring of 2019 the RCMP commenced an investigation into the alleged drug trafficking activity of LAA. The RCMP believed that LAA was transporting cocaine at the multiple kilogram level from Calgary to central Alberta where he was supplying local high-level dealers. Ultimately, police investigation resulted in substantial seizures including approximately $100,000.00 cash, firearms, 1000 fentanyl pills, a brick of cocaine, half a brick of methamphetamine, 300 grams of ecstasy, 16 grams of heroin, etc. etc. etc. LAA was arrested and charged with multiple counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and possessing proceeds of crime.

Bottom Line: Subsequent to conduct of a preliminary inquiry and prior to commencement of Queen’s Bench trial proceedings, Patrick Fagan was successful in killing ALL charges against LAA by way of a Stay of Proceedings.

The RCMP conducted a lengthy complex investigation into the alleged drug trafficking activities of targes in Red Deer and Calgary. The police believed LAA to be the primary trafficking link between the targeted groups in central and southern Alberta.

Police investigation involved extensive surveillance by devoted teams assigned to that purpose in Red Deer, Calgary and elsewhere and during the course of same they observed a multitude of meetings and exchanges which were consistent (in the opinion of the police) with drug trafficking.

In furtherance of their investigation the RCMP also obtained judicial authorizations to install tracking devices on various vehicles of interest. These tracking devices allowed the police to effectively deploy their resources based on the movement of those targeted vehicles. 

It was discovered by Patrick Fagan during the course of his defence of LAA that the police had installed a covert/hidden camera in a building known to be frequented by LAA and others. Evidence acquired by the police from these covert recordings were used to gather further evidence. More to the point, when it came time to obtain Warrants to Search on the date of “takedown” the police relied heavily on information acquired from the hidden cameras. The problem with the warrants issued on the date of takedown (pursuant to which all the drugs, weapons and cash aforesaid were seized) from a constitutional perspective, is the covert cameras were installed WITHOUT judicial authorization. 

Bottom Line: Although successfully defending this case was much more complicated than is suggested aforesaid, the warrantless covert camera installations proved to be a fatal weakness in the overall case for the prosecution and the Crown ultimately conceded this reality a week prior to the commencement of trial proceedings and directed the Clerk of the Court to enter a Stay of Proceedings on ALL charges against LAA.