An RCMP officer central to a year-long operation against Yellowknife’s cocaine trade says nothing will change until something is done to reduce demand.

On Monday, police said 15 people are facing charges as a result of Project Gloomiest, which is said to have disrupted two cocaine trafficking networks in the city.

“That’s fairly significant,” Staff Sergeant Dean Riou, from the RCMP’s federal investigations unit, told Cabin Radio.

Advertisement. Story continues below

“However, we recognize that we need to work collaboratively with other social agencies to reduce the demand for hard drugs on the streets, and the harm that they bring to the communities.

“Until we can reduce that strong appetite for these drugs, there will just be another network coming in to fill that demand.”

Close analysis

According to Riou, Project Gloomiest took longer than police had initially anticipated before reaching a conclusion – in part because so many of their suspects were using fake identities.

“Part of the problem was just identifying these people,” said Riou.

“They came up here and from the moment they arrived in Yellowknife were operating under pseudonyms that made it a challenge for us to to even identify them, and we took considerable investigative steps to learn their identity through the course of the investigation.”

Riou hopes affected drug trafficking networks will “have to take considerable efforts” to re-establish themselves following Project Gloomiest – adding police are now turning their attention to a closer examination of how groups from the south are impacting and controlling the city’s drug trade.

“One of the differences that I see is we’re seeing a lot of people arriving in town and setting up these networks,” said Riou.

“These people often consist of people from various different cities in the country – Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal. They rotate in and out frequently, and often partner with some of the local people who’ve been entrenched in the drug trade here for years to help establish their customer base.

“And I don’t think that’s a new trend per se, but we’re starting to analyze it more closely.”

Gloomy outlook

Riou also clarified how RCMP hit upon the name of the operation. Project Gloomiest’s moniker received considerable attention from residents when its results were shared on Monday.

“Basically, we are the G division of the RCMP. So any projects that we undertake have to start with the letter G, which limits us somewhat,” Riou admitted.

“So in 2014 we ran Project Gloom, and then in 2015, we ran Project Gloomier, and we just wanted a substantial project to be Project Gloomiest to complete the trifecta.”

Asked if a fourth project would have to be Project Gloom 2: Revenge of Gloom or similar, given the force is running out of superlative adjectives, Riou acknowledged: “We’ll have to come up with some new vocabulary.”

Hear more from Dean Riou on Cabin Radio’s Lunchtime News from 12pm on Wednesday, December 5.