The Inuvik Drum had a ringside seat to a dramatic scene Nov. 6 as an apparent undercover drug investigation unfolded at the Nova Inn.
Two criminal events appeared to take place in one day but it wasn’t clear at press time if they were related.
Around 1 a.m., a hotel guest asked the one Nova staff member on duty for help using the laundry machines, a source told the Drum.
When the staff member came back to the lobby, two men were running off with a polar bear skin that had been displayed in the hotel. The skin had been lent to the Nova by town councillor Vince Sharpe, which was valued at approximately $30,000. The RCMP have issued a news release seeking information about the theft.
Later that same day, a man left behind a box in the hotel’s lobby. A curious witness subsequently took a peek inside the box, which appeared to contain a large amount of cocaine stuffed into several dozen bags and packaged in plastic containers.
Police were called immediately and investigated the scene. The Drum learned of the ongoing scene and arrived in the hotel at 3:30 p.m. There were two men in the lobby who a source said were undercover RCMP officers waiting for the suspect to return. No box was visible.
The suspect had been booked to stay at the hotel until Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Drum was told.
A source said the hotel received an anonymous phone call suggesting the hotel give up the package.
Between 4 and 5 p.m, a man came into the lobby and approached the front desk. He told reception that his friend had to leave town that day for work but had left something in his room that he was looking to pick up. The man said he would pay cash for the room and reception allowed him to go upstairs to the unit.
The man came downstairs a few minutes later, appeared to pay at reception and then left the hotel with some luggage. The man got in a car that was waiting for him. After he left, the men sources identified as undercover RCMP officers stood up and walked outside to their car.
Meanwhile, a police truck had gone down Hospital Hill a moment earlier but then turned around at the bottom and zoomed back up the hill, and the undercover RCMP officers went in the same direction. The Drum attempted to follow but lost sight of the police and the suspect vehicle.
The RCMP acknowledged the situation when reached by the Drum and issued a brief press release stating that the investigation was ongoing as of Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Management at the Nova Inn declined to comment.