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Kivalliq heat

RCMP score substantial drug bust in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Dec 06/06) - A large drug bust or illegal liquor seizure seems to have become an annual event leading up to the holiday season in Rankin Inlet.

Members of the RCMP and community constables descended upon a home in Rankin this past month with a search warrant.

NNSL Photo/graphic

RCMP Const. Elliot Chubak displays drugs and cash seized in a police raid in Rankin Inlet this past month. Rankin RCMP intend to keep the heat onRankin suspected drug dealers and bootleggers in the community. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The search turned up a significant amount of marijuana and cocaine with an estimated street value of about $40,000.

Police also seized cash and drug paraphernalia in the raid.

Randy Tizzard, 39, of Rankin has been charged with possession of a controlled substance for trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and possession of the proceeds of crime.

RCMP Cpl. Gerald Ouellet would not divulge the amount of weed or cash seized in the raid, saying only that it was a significant bust for a hamlet the size of Rankin.

Ouellet said the detachment appreciates the information the community is providing - either through the 1-800 CrimeStoppers number or by phoning directly to the detachment - in regards to illegal activities in the hamlet.

"We are going to continue our efforts in cracking down on the drug trade and illegal bootlegging activities in Rankin Inlet," said Ouellet.

"Any information people can provide is of value."

Ouellet said although it's not commonplace for community constables to be involved in a drug raid of this magnitude, the Rankin RCMP work in conjunction with bylaw officers and they're asked to help when needed.

"The operation gave them experience in this type of matter, just as it would with our younger members.

"But there was no specific reason they were used, other than they're bylaw officers and always willing to assist us.

"The community constables are part of the police community here."

Despite the fact there's been a major drug or alcohol bust at about this time in each of the past three years in Rankin, Ouelett said there's no extra focus on illegal activities near Christmas.

He said the detachment tries to be vigilant throughout the year.

"We focus on what the town requests us to do.

"Council has asked us to work as hard as we can to rid the community of drug dealers and bootleggers, as well as step up our efforts against drinking and driving, and that's what we're here to do."

Rankin Mayor Lorne Kusugak said council has been pleased with the RCMP's efforts to crack down on illegal booze and drugs.

He said many people have told him this is the best job police have ever done in dealing with illegal substances in the community.

Yet, others insist on seeing the police's performance as a negative for the hamlet.

"Some regard the number of people charged with driving under the influence this past month as proof that we have the highest rate of people who drink and drive in Nunavut," said Kusugak.

"But what Rankin has is the highest percentage of people being busted by our police for drinking and driving.

"The difference is our cops are doing a great job in busting people who choose to drink and drive.

"By getting drunk drivers off of our streets, the RCMP are saving lives and that's the truth of the matter."

Kusugak said whether by design or not, it's encouraging when police pull off a major drug or alcohol bust this close to Christmas.

He said the busts keep more money in some people's pockets and prevent some families from suffering through a miserable Christmas.

"Shutting down the bootleggers is every bit as important as getting rid of the drug dealers in Rankin.

"When you look at the people who spend $300 or $600 on bootleg alcohol this close to the holidays, it's their families who suffer for it.

"When the police bring down a bootlegger this time of year - if that means someone is not going to spend $300 on booze this week, that means someone's kid is going to have $300 worth of food or Christmas presents in their home next week.

"There's nothing sadder than seeing kids going without at any time, but especially at Christmas."

Kusugak said if police pressure brings about a drop in substance abuse in the community, the crime rate will also drop.

He said Rankin has an effective police force with a good blend of Inuit and non-Inuit members.

"These officers, for a change, are also very active in the community and that's also an important factor.

"You can't say that about a lot of the officers we've had in Rankin in the past."