Battlefords Gang Task Force (GTF) celebrates success

Herald File Photo. The Battlefords RCMP has announced successes for the Gang Task Force (GTF).

Daily Herald Staff

Since 2021, the Battleford RCMP’s Gang Task Force’s (GTF) has recovered 47 stolen vehicles and taken 62 firearms and more than 15 kilograms of cocaine taken off the streets.

The GTF is made up of six police officers, and is part of the detachment’s General Investigation Section. While the team helps frontline officers during unfolding events such as firearm-related or violent crime, they also have specialized skills that helps target criminals proactively.

“What’s unmeasurable is this hard-working team’s impact on public safety,” Insp. Jesse Gilbert, the officer in charge of Battlefords RCMP, said in a press release. “Our officers are part of this community. They have a vested interest in keeping it safe. No one in the Battlefords area wants gang activity, drug trafficking and violence occurring in our neighbourhoods. The Gang Task Force works alongside our dedicated frontline detachment members to address it – and to dissuade it from occurring in the first place.

“The GTF officers have the special training and skills necessary for more in-depth, longer-term investigations,” Gilbert added. “This includes the ability to obtain and execute search warrants, conduct surveillance and other covert investigational techniques. It’s skills like these that help us reduce harm by removing – and keeping – drugs and weapons off the street.”

GTF officers used these advanced investigational techniques, including covert strategies and surveillance, in Project Falter an investigation into a trafficking operation in the Battlefords area that began in August 2022.

Investigation determined illicit drugs, which originated from Edmonton, were being trafficking in the community via a phone-in-delivery service.

Through a thoroughly-planned, unified enforcement effort that involved numerous other Saskatchewan RCMP and other police partner units, numerous traffic stops and search warrants were executed in the Battlefords area on February 2, 2023.

Officers located and seized nearly eight kilograms of cocaine, four handguns, plus other illicit substances. More than 60 charges were laid against 12 individuals through the course of this investigation. Eleven individuals have now been convicted of charges laid as a result of this investigation, two of which received six-year prison sentences. Some charges remain before the courts.

In total, 169 individuals have been charged and brought before the courts due to GTF investigations from 2021 to 2023. Officers estimate they’ve seized more than $2 million worth of illicit drugs and more than $180,000 in cash proceeds of crime.

“Just think about the impact the Gang Task Force is making,” Gilbert said.

“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of doses of dangerous illicit drugs taken off the streets, and thousands of dollars removed from the hands of those looking to profit from introducing risk to our community. I hope this is a clear message: we value community safety in the Battlefords area and our hard-working detachment members and specialized units like the GTF will continue working to ensure it.”