Harold Carmichael-thesudburystar

Project Skylark INVESTIGATION QUASHES DRUG TRAFFICKING NETWORK
Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) Members Charged OPP photo
Project Skylark PHOTO BY OPP PHOTO

A Niagara Falls man charged in a province-wide drug bust in 2019 will likely be sentenced in late March due to a problem with ordering a report.

Keith Earle, 33, was to have been sentenced this week in Sudbury.

However, that was put off due to an issue with a Gladue report. A Gladue report, which takes six to eight weeks to prepare, assists a judge with sentencing options for people of First Nation heritage.

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Earle is currently in custody at the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold. His 23 Project Skylark-related charges included a variety of drug-related offences, exploitation and procuring.

Earle was arrested in Greater Sudbury in August 2019 as part of Project Skylark.

Federal prosecutor Michael Jones told the court via audio link from Ottawa that “I just think it’s unfortunate” sentencing had to be delayed, but did not object to the time needed to get the Gladue report completed.

Later, a new sentencing date of March 24 for Earle was set.

The Sudbury Star has learned that Earle’s Skylark charges are among several sets of charges he has yet to resolve in court.

All of the people charged in Project Skylark are being dealt with at the Sudbury Courthouse.

The court has heard that in the summer of 2018, Niagara Regional Police, Greater Sudbury Police and the Ontario Provincial Police started a joint investigation into a cocaine trafficking ring that operated across Ontario, including Greater Sudbury.

Dubbed Project Skylark, the initiative investigated members and associates of the Hells Angels Nomads, Red Devils Motorcycle Club and the Hooligans Motorcycle Club associated with the trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in the Niagara Region, Sudbury and Ottawa.

Fifteen people, including six from Greater Sudbury, were subsequently arrested on Aug. 1, 2019.

About 6 a.m. that day, search warrants were executed across the province, including five at locations in Greater Sudbury.

Police in Sudbury seized about $420,000 worth of drugs, including methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and shatter. Five handguns, three long guns, and $50,000 in cash were also seized.

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“The results of this investigation have significantly impacted the Hells Angels Nomads and Red Devils MC drug trafficking network,” OPP Supt. Bryan MacKillop said at the time. “We want to send a clear message that law enforcement agencies are working together to hold (outlaw motorcycle gangs) accountable for trafficking and distributing these drugs that are taking the lives of people in our communities.

“This investigation will be ongoing, and anyone linked to these criminal enterprises could be subject to further investigation.”

MacKillop said it was important for police to disrupt the drug trade in Ontario.

“Outlaw motorcycle gangs are associated to other forms of organized crime across this country,” he told reporters.

“It’s the network they utilize to be able to peddle their goods that’s so important, and having disabled and disrupted this particular network will have a significant impact on the drug trade in Ontario.”

hcarmichael@postmedia.com

Twitter: @haroldCarmichae.

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