In addition to finding 700 catalytic converters worth about $1.4 million, Edmonton police also found drugs and a firearm during a bust in the city’s southeast.
The EPS started looking into A1 Scrap Metal Recycling Ltd. as part of a drug trafficking investigation in summer 2022.
Police started noticing “drug transactions conducted directly from the businesses,” located near 88 Street and 61 Avenue.
In a news release Wednesday, police also said they saw “unknown individuals attending the business with scrap metal and catalytic converters.”
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A search warrant was conducted in November 2022 at the business and another residence, which found over 1,400 grams of fentanyl (street value $285,000), over 2,000 grams of cocaine (street value $180,000), an illegally owned loaded 9mm Glock handgun, an illegal magazine with 41 9mm rounds, more than 700 catalytic converters (street value $1.4 million), and thousands in cash.
Tekie Awte, 27, was later arrested and charged with eight drug and firearms-related charges, as well as several breaches.
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The accused was previously charged by Edmonton police in a similar catalytic converter bust. In 2020, Awte, then 24, was charged with trafficking stolen property, possession of stolen property for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime and money laundering.
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In this recent investigation, two other suspects were identified and charged with the same offenses: 28-year-old Meron Semere Okbamichael and 26-year-old Simon Semere Okbamichael.
On Jan. 5, 2023, additional charges were laid.
Both Awte and A1 Scrap Metal Recycling Ltd. were charged under the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act with:
- Failure to obtain and record information regarding the transaction
- Failure to provide prescribed information collected in time prescribed
- Failure to use traceable currency to purchase scrap metal
Under this act, individuals can be charged $10,000 for a first offense or imprisoned for less than a year or both, and $25,000 for a second offense or imprisoned for less than a year or both.
Corporations can face a $50,000 fine for a first offense and a $200,000 fine for a second offense.
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