Grande Prairie, Alberta – A suspected transaction between a firearms trafficker and a drug dealer was intercepted by ALERT teams in Grande Prairie.
On May 13, 2019, three suspects were arrested in the parking lot of a Grande Prairie shopping centre, where an alleged exchange of firearms was taking place. Investigators with ALERT’s Grande Prairie organized crime team, ALERT’s Guns and Gangs team, High Prairie RCMP, and Grande Prairie RCMP coordinated on the investigation.
The arrests came as part of a straw purchasing investigation by ALERT. Straw purchasing typically involves someone with a valid Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) but no criminal record obtaining firearms for someone who otherwise could not, or who does not want their name associated with the transaction.
In the process of making the arrests, ALERT searched two vehicles and seized:
ammunition and magazines;
810 grams of suspected cocaine; and
$5,665 cash proceeds of crime.
ALERT alleges that Loriann Vegso was acting as a firearms straw purchaser and diverted handguns to the criminal market. The 49-year-old woman purchased 15 handguns since April 2019, which were then allegedly re-sold.
ALERT alleges that Dustin Prinz was in the process of acquiring three handguns from Vegso. The 23-year-old High Prairie man is a suspected drug trafficker and was arrested with a large amount of suspected cocaine in his possession. Hailey Badger, a 22-year-old woman, was also in the vehicle.
The three handguns were recovered, along with a loaded handgun that was found in Badger’s purse.
Since the time of the arrests, another handgun that was allegedly bought and sold by Vesgo was recovered. High Prairie RCMP seized the handgun as part of a separate drug investigation on May 16, 2019.
Vegso is charged with: firearms trafficking; possession of a firearm for the purpose of trafficking; and possession of property obtained by crime.
Prinz is charged with: possession of a firearm for the purpose of trafficking; possession of a firearm in a vehicle; possession of a loaded restricted firearm; knowingly possessing a firearm while unauthorized; possession of a firearm contrary to a prohibition order; possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking; and possession of proceeds of crime.
Badger is charged with: possession of a firearm for the purpose of trafficking; possession of a firearm in a vehicle; possession of a loaded firearm; possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking; and possession of proceeds of crime.
ALERT began its investigation in April 2019 with the assistance of the RCMP’s National Weapons Enforcement Support Team.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime. Members of Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, and RCMP work in ALERT.
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