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Wednesday, 14 December 2011 14:48

Four accused in drug case make Swift Current court appearances

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The four men who were arrested two months ago as a result of an extensive drug investigation by law enforcement agencies in Canada and the U.S. all made court appearances in Swift Current last week.

Troy Swanson, 25, from Coldstream, B.C., and Brock Palfrey, 25, from Silverstar, B.C., are both in custody. They made brief court appearances by video link from the Regina correctional facility on Dec. 7.

Swanson, who was denied bail by Judge L.A. Matsalla on Oct. 28, was appearing for the purpose of election and plea. His lawyer, who appeared by telephone, told court he was not in a position to proceed as the disclosure received from the Crown so far has been “really unsatisfactory” with regard to information that relates specifically to his client.

The Crown said the amount of disclosure information to be made available to defence counsel is a massive undertaking and there was no timeline for when that would be done.

“This has been going on now for quite a while,” Judge Matsalla observed.

He adjourned the case to Jan. 20, 2012 and expressed the hope it will be enough time for sufficient disclosure.

The purpose of Palfrey’s court appearance on Dec. 7 was for a bail hearing. His lawyer also requested an adjournment because he was still waiting for documentation.

Judge Matsalla agreed to the request and noted disclosure is a concern to everyone. He scheduled the bail hearing for Jan. 20, 2012 and ordered that Palfrey must remain in custody until then.

Ronald Learning, 28, from Golden, B.C., was previously released on bail after his court appearance in November. His legal counsel appeared by telephone on Dec. 7 and requested an adjournment to review a 175-page document that was only recently received from the Crown.

Judge Matsalla adjourned the case to Jan. 20, 2012 for election and noted Learning’s bail conditions will continue to apply.

William Larsen, 51, from Coldstream, B.C., appeared in person with his legal counsel on Dec. 9 for a bail hearing.

The Crown provided detailed information to court about the criminal investigation by the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies that resulted in Larsen’s arrest.

The defence responded to the Crown’s allegations and presented arguments for Larsen’s release under strict conditions. The information presented at the hearing is subject to a publication ban.

After more than three hours of presentations by the two parties, Judge Matsalla adjourned the bail hearing to Dec. 16 for the conclusion of submissions by the defence. Larsen was remanded until then.

All four men are facing charges in relation to the import and export of drugs across unmanned border crossings in southwest Saskatchewan.

According to information previously released by the RCMP, the investigation under the leadership of the Regina Integrated Drug Unit resulted in the seizure of 367 kilograms of cocaine destined for B.C. and 100,000 ecstasy pills going to the U.S.

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