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Jan. 27, 2022 | Thursday
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Anxious neighbours watch as police raid St. Davids home
A shattered toilet sits on the lawn of the house raided by police. Neighbours said the suspects tried to flush illegal drugs when police raided. (Evan Saunders)

Fentanyl, $84,000 cash, gun seized in bust

The sounds of gunshots, barking dogs, and smoke and stun grenades disrupted a quiet St. Davids neighbourhood as police raided a home and arrested two people on drug trafficking and gun charges last week.

Niagara Regional Police conducted the late-evening bust at 65 Kenmir Ave. on June 8 following a guns and gangs investigation that began in early 2021, investigators said. 

Officers said one of the suspects fired at officers after they burst into the house. Police said they found fentanyl, one handgun and more than $80,000 in cash in the house.

Police refused to release the address of the home, but it was confirmed by people who witnessed the takedown.

The home was being rented, said neighbours, who watched the scene unfold from their bedroom windows.

“I heard this really loud sound. They sounded like fireworks but there were a lot of them,” nearby resident Ash told The Lake Report. 

“But then I heard yelling and dogs barking. Then I started looking and there was like a whole bunch of cops running around,” Ash said.

According to another witness, there were about seven police cruisers, several unmarked cars and a large unmarked van outside the residence.

While police said two NOTL men were charged, witnesses said they saw other people detained.

“I saw one of the ladies getting arrested on the balcony as well. She was on the ground (an officer) was tying her up," said Ash.

The fireworks Ash heard turned out to be an array of noises from officers as they conducted the raid.

“I don’t know if it was the gunshot or them breaking the door down. I know they used a bunch of smoke grenades and stun grenades,” he said.

Residents saw flashing white lights from inside the house as the raid went on.

On Friday, three days after the raid, a shattered toilet lay in pieces on the front lawn. Neighbours said the suspects tried to flush evidence when the raid started.

Neighbours said most of the police cars were gone within an hour of the bust but some stayed until at least 5:30 the next morning.

The rental property had been on the market, “but maybe he was not getting the right price. Once I saw these people and I asked them where they were from. They said they moved from Toronto,” said a neighbour who asked that their name not be published.

“They were only there every once in a while. But I saw a Rolls-Royce, Mercedes and Bentleys outside. So, we were a little suspicious. We thought something was going on.”

Officers, including a team from Niagara's emergency task unit, said they seized a handgun and more than 200 grams of fentanyl, with a street value of over $61,000. As well, $84,000 in cash was found, police said.

Mashie Harper, 28, and Pietre Cleghorn, 34, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, face several charges including possession of a schedule 1 drug intended for trafficking (fentanyl), discharging an illegal firearm (allegedly at officers) and possession of over $84,000 in crime-related cash, according to a Niagara Regional Police news release.

Detectives also searched a St. Catharines home and arrested a third person. A warrant was issued for the arrest of a fourth person, Rohan Chand, 34.

Officers seized 44 grams of fentanyl there with a street value of about $13,000. Chand is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking. 

A warrant was issued for another suspect, David McComb, 27, of St. Catharines.

In September 2019, a drive-by shooting targeted another house on Kenmir Avenue.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful and deadly pain reliever used in hospital settings.

A study published in November 2020 by Public Health Ontario focusing on opiate-related deaths during the pandemic said fentanyl was tied to 87.2 per cent of the 617 overdose deaths studied, making it by far the most deadly street drug in Ontario.

It is 20 to 40 times more potent than heroin, according to the federal government.

 

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