In what the Chief of Police called a huge drug bust, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary seized more than $5.8 million worth of illegal drugs Tuesday in the Northeast Avalon region.
An investigation conducted by both the RNC's drug and criminal intelligence units resulted in the seizure of 625 pounds of marijuana, four kilograms of hashish, one kilogram of cocaine and about 500 ecstasy tablets.
"It's about 25 times bigger what we've been accustomed to seeing here," RNC Chief Joe Browne said today during a news conference at the RNC Annex, where the drugs were displayed for the media.
"Typically, our seizures are between 25 and 30 pounds."
The seizure led to the arrest of Edward Francis Pearce of Paradise, who was charged with four counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, involving marijuana, cocaine, hashish and ecstasy.
The hashish, cocaine and ecstasy pills, along with 125 pounds of the marijuana, were found in a morning search of Pearce's home at Three Island Pond. The drugs are worth $1.4 million on the street.
Later that afternoon, in a search of a Holyrood storage mall, police found 500 pounds of marijuana worth $4.45 million.
"That's $5.8 million in drug products removed from the streets as a result of these efforts," Browne said.
Pearce made a brief appearance in provincial court today and was released on $20,000 bail. He's due back in court July 4.
Browne said police had been interested in Pearce for some time and that the drugs were intended for this province.
The seizure comes eight months after RNC made another significant drug bust - a massive investigation dubbed Operation Roadrunner.
That sting - which involved officers from across the country - uncovered an extensive drug operation, leading to raids on 11 homes in the St. John's area, as well as arrests in Quebec. The RNC believes the ring is linked to the Hell's Angels.
In St. John's, police seized of 51 pounds of marijuana, 19 pounds of cocaine, $300,000, six vehicles, weapons and laptop computers.
"At that time," Browne said, "we issued a warning to those who participate in the drug trade to be aware our investigators will eventually find you and bring you to justice.
"In fact, what I said at the time was that if I was a drug dealer in this province, I'd be very worried and I maintain that today."