RCMP arrest 'a number of people' at 13 Halifax-area sites, but remain tight-lipped on operation
HALIFAX -- Nearly 24 hours after police activity was reported in parts of the Halifax area, the RCMP has released some details about the ongoing investigation.
Nova Scotia RCMP confirmed Thursday afternoon that members of the federal serious and organized crime unit searched 13 sites across the Halifax Regional Municipality on Wednesday, as part of an ongoing investigation into organized crime and drugs in the province.
Police say a “number of people were arrested are in custody” but they wouldn’t say how many. No charges have been laid at this time.
Officers seized what is believed to be cocaine and other drugs, as well as firearms, during the raids.
Police say the searches will continue Thursday.
No other details have been released.
Thursday morning, RCMP vehicles and a Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency HAZMAT team responded to an address on Old Annapolis Road in Hammonds Plains, N.S., and have been on scene for several hours.
It isn’t known if the activity is related to the ongoing operation by the RCMP.
"Everyone’s wondering what’s going on," said resident Larry Wark. "I mean, we haven’t got a clue yet."
CTV News asked for more information and so did the area city councillor
Halifax Police said it was an RCMP matter and the RCMP were saying little.
"Lessons have taught us that here in Nova Scotia people would like to know what’s going on," said Halifax Regional Coun. Pam Lovelace, who represents District 13, which includes Hammonds Plains.
RCMP TIGHT-LIPPED ON OPERATION
Reports of a significant police presence in several Halifax-area communities first started to trickle in Wednesday afternoon, but the RCMP wouldn’t release any information about the operation.
Videos posted on social media showed police vehicles speeding under an overpass and down a street in Halifax. In one video, it appears a person is being arrested.
It was a shocking sight for Halifax motorists In Halifax's west end on Wednesday afternoon.
A sedan was chased by police off the Bicentennial Highway, over grass, between traffic, and over a sidewalk.
It slammed into a power pole on Elliott Street.
"I was watching it as it was happening and I was very terrified they were going to ram right into one of the houses to be honest," said witness Chelsea Fougere.
Another witness, Sharon Simpson, said it was a miracle no one was injured.
"There were people on the sidewalk on Jo Howe who got out of the way," Simpson said.
Witnesses are still processing what unfolded next.
They say police yelled at them to stay inside their homes as they watched tactical officers surround the vehicle in question.
"And then very quickly took two individuals into custody," Fougere said.
Elsewhere, there was a heavy police presence across the street from Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford.
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education confirms RCMP told the school police were in the area -- after dismissal.
"So there was hundreds of kids being released at the same time that this was happening," said parent Jennifer Ramsay.
The first official comment came around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, when Halifax Regional Police issued a news release stating that the department had received calls from residents and news outlets about police activity in a number of communities.
However, Halifax police said they weren’t involved in the operation, and that all inquiries should be directed to the RCMP.
The RCMP didn’t release any information about the operation until about two hours later, at 7:20 p.m., when they tweeted that they were involved in an “ongoing investigation at a number of different sites throughout the HRM.”
Police said there was no risk to public safety and more information would be released when available. No new information was released Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
When CTV News reached out to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Lisa Croteau for comment Thursday morning, she repeated the information in Wednesday’s tweet.
Halifax Regional Police issued another statement at 10:45 a.m. Thursday. In the news release, police again stated that the department was not involved in the operation, and asked that all inquiries be directed to the RCMP.
“Members of the public, elected officials and media have raised questions about HRP’s awareness of the operation,” said police in the emailed statement. “Select officials within HRP were made aware that an operation was expected to take place at an undetermined time; however, as can often be the case with sensitive federal investigations and operations, HRP were not provided any specific details or locations within our jurisdiction.”
Police say, once they learned more about the nature of the operation and the public impact, they facilitated connecting media and members of the public with the Nova Scotia RCMP’s media relations.
“However, the expectation had been that any public communication plan on the operation would be the responsibility of the agency running the operation,” said Halifax Regional Police.