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Booze blues in Rankin

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Jan 17/05) - The Rankin Inlet detachment of the RCMP were kept busy during this year's holiday season, despite taking a large amount of booze and drugs off the street shortly before Christmas.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sgt. Grant St. Germaine of the Rankin Inlet RCMP records a stack of confiscated money, along with seized drugs and liquor after a series of raids in the hamlet this past Christmas. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Sgt. Grant St. Germaine said the RCMP executed two search warrants on Dec. 19, and another on Dec. 22, resulting in the seizure of 189 joints, 58 street grams and 42.9 bulk grams of marijuana, along with 53 40-ounce bottles of liquor.

Seven people face various trafficking and bootlegging related charges as a result of the raids. Martha and Jackie Iguptak, both of Rankin Inlet, have been charged with the illegal sale of liquor and possession of both cannabis and cannabis resin. Charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking are Randy Tizzard, Judie Kalaserk, Norman Kowtak and Verna Kowtak, all of Rankin Inlet.

St. Germaine said despite the hamlet's annual ban on the importing of liquor during the holiday season, booze kept making its way into the hamlet. He said although the ban started on Dec. 20, people were still picking up liquor orders as late as Dec. 23.

"Last year the hamlet was noticeably quieter during the holidays because of the ban, but not so this year," said St. Germaine.

"We had three people in jail on Christmas Day and another eight on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

"In total we had to incarcerate 18 people during Christmas and New Year's, and they were all alcohol related."

St. Germaine said seizing 53 bottles in less than a week is uncommon for Rankin.

He said confiscating 42 bottles from one residence is a significant seizure.

"I'd hate to think what might have happened had those 53 bottles not been seized before the holidays.

"People can order what they want, but when one or two people are ordering that much alcohol, whoever's issuing the permits should be taking a closer look."

Warwick Wilkinson is the general manager for Piruqsaijit Ltd., which issues permits in Rankin Inlet for liquor orders from Churchill and Yellowknife. The company is required by law to comply with a customer's order.

"According to the Liquor Act, there are no restrictions or limits on importing liquor into Rankin Inlet," said Wilkinson.