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Big liquor busts in Fort Good Hope
78 bottles seized in two separate searches along with cash, marijuana

Daniel Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 26, 2015

RCMP in Fort Good Hope seized liquor, cash and marijuana in two separate searches last week.

According to a news release, RCMP in the community executed a search warrant at a home on January 20 and found 55 375-millilitre bottles, or mickeys, of vodka as well as some cash. Three men were arrested and later released with promises to appear in court on March 4.

Charges are pending against them under the Northwest Territories Liquor Act for illegally possessing liquor.

Fort Good Hope has limits on the amount of liquor a person can have in the span of a week, with the maximum amount of spirits set at 1.14 litres. The 55 bottles found in the home totalled 20.62 litres.

While liquor seizures from check stops on winter roads are not uncommon in restricted communities, large seizures inside homes are rarer.

Const. Elenore Sturko, spokesperson for the RCMP, could not disclose the details of the investigation, only saying RCMP had enough evidence to obtain a warrant through the courts for the search.

"Illegal alcohol is a problem and it's one we're committed to working on. This is part of an overall commitment to work on the problem of illegal alcohol," said Sturko.

In a separate incident near the community on Jan. 17, a woman was stopped on the winter road with liquor and marijuana in her vehicle, stated RCMP in the release.

Officers found 17 mickeys of vodka, two opened 1.75-litre bottles of vodka, two 750-millilitre bottles of vodka and two 75-millilitre bottles of wine. They also found about 14 grams of marijuana.

Charges are pending against the woman under the liquor act.

Norman Yakeleya, MLA for the Sahtu region, said he's seen an increased flow of alcohol into the communities since Norman Wells lifted their liquor restrictions in 2012.

He said there's not enough employment in communities like Fort Good Hope to keep young people away from making easy money bootlegging.

"These young people who are bootlegging, they're very smart people. We need to let them know that this is not the kind of lifestyle that is good for the community and the people. There's other ways, we have to show them that they can do better than be a drug dealer or a bootlegger," said Yakeleya.

Sturko said she doesn't know if there's an increased amount of bootlegging going on in Fort Good Hope, but said the RCMP continues to work closely with communities with liquor restrictions.

"We want to work with communities to support a safe and healthy community," she said.

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