Plot leads to multiple charges
Operation B-Tarantula nets six men on charges of plotting to murder, cocaine trafficking
A police investigation dubbed Operation B-Tarantula has resulted in the arrest of six men and the seizure of cocaine, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, firearms and vehicles — and there’s more to come, police say.
Five of the men made quick appearances before a judge in provincial court in St. John’s Thursday afternoon. Among them was Dustin (Dusty) Etheridge, 26, whose alleged criminal activity inspired the investigation.
Etheridge has been in custody since the middle of May, when he and John Squires, 34, were arrested and charged with conspiring to murder alleged Hells Angels associate Bradley Summers. Etheridge and Squires were also charged with a number of weapons offences related to a loaded handgun.
On Thursday, Etheridge was given his newest charges: one count each of trafficking cocaine, conspiring to traffic cocaine, possessing more than $5,000 cash obtained from selling the drug, dangerous driving and breaching a court order. Squires was also charged with trafficking and conspiring to traffic cocaine.
Nineteen-year-old Brandon Glasco and 24-year-old Shane Clarke were charged Thursday with participating in the plot to kill Summers. Both men are facing two charges each related to cocaine trafficking as well, and Glasco was handed additional charges of careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and possessing a firearm in a vehicle.
Corey Johnathan Stevens, 32, was charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of the drug for the purpose of trafficking it and conspiring to traffic it.
Bradley Squires, 29, is charged with trafficking and conspiring to traffic cocaine.
Inspector Derek Santosuosso of the RNC/RCMP Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-NL) said in a media statement Operation BTarantula began last March, with the goal of investigating the alleged criminal activities of Etheridge and his associates. The investigation crossed into other provinces, including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, Santosuosso said.
Etheridge and John Squires were the first arrests as a result of the operation, and as a result, police executed search warrants at a number of homes, hotels, businesses and vehicles in the St. John’s area.
As a result, officers seized seven kilograms of cocaine, about $240,000 cash, 20 firearms, including two handguns and ammunition, a 2014 Cadillac CTS and a 2012 Dodge Dually truck, and drug paraphernalia like cash counters and score sheets.
“The CFSEU-NL investigation is ongoing and investigators anticipate further charges will be laid,” Santosuosso said.
Brad Summers, the target of the alleged murder plot, is also in custody, and has agreed to remain there until a bail hearing in about two weeks time. He was arrested last week and charged with three offences related to a handgun, as well as a break-in at a home on White Place in Mount Pearl with the intent to commit an offence.
Summers is not a stranger to the CFSEU, having been arrested five years ago as part of an investigation into outlaw motorcycle gangs and charged with assault and uttering threats.
Dustin Etheridge at court in St. John’s on Thursday.