The Edmonton Police Service, in Edmonton, Canada, has uncovered a drug and catalytic converter trafficking operation at a southeast Edmonton metal recycler.
In the summer of 2022, police opened a drug trafficking investigation into A1 Scrap Metal Recycling Ltd. in the area of 88 Street and 61 Avenue. During the investigation, police observed drug transactions conducted directly from the business, as well as unknown individuals attending the business with scrap metal and catalytic converters.
At the end of November 2022, police executed a search warrant at the business and another residence, during which they located the following items:
- more than 1400 grams of fentanyl, worth approximately $285,000
- more than 2000 grams of cocaine, worth approximately $180,000
- an unlawfully owned loaded 9 mm Glock handgun
- an illegal magazine that contained 41 9 mm rounds
- more than 700 catalytic converters with a replacement value of approximately $1,400,000
- approximately $9,800 in Canadian currency
Tekie Awte, 27, was later arrested and charged with eight drug and firearms-related charges, as well as several breaches.
During the investigation, Meron Semere Okbamichael, 28, and Simon Semere Okbamichael, 26, were identified as suspects and were jointly charged with the same offences as Awte.
On January 5, 2023, police charged Awte and A1 Scrap Metal Recycling Ltd with the following additional offences under the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act:
- Failure to obtain and record information respecting the transaction
- Failure to provide prescribed information collected in time prescribed
- Failure to use traceable currency to purchase scrap metal
Fines for violations of the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act include:
- For Individuals:
- First offence: $10,000, or imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both.
- Second offence: $25,000, or imprisonment for a term of not more than one year.
- For corporations:
- First offence: $50,000 fine
- Second offence: $200,000 fine
Anyone with any information about this or any other crime is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online here.