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  1. Alfa
    'NOTHING TO DO WITH DRUG RING'

    Ex-Bomber Will Prove It

    Ex-Winnipeg Blue Bombers lineman Eddie Blake says he had nothing to do with
    an international ephedrine smuggling ring that police busted this week --
    and he's going to prove it in court. "I'm innocent of all these charges,
    with the exception of one charge," Blake told The Sun yesterday in a
    telephone interview from the Winnipeg Remand Centre. "I will prove it
    beyond a shadow of a doubt as soon as my lawyer gives me the ability."

    He faces charges of conspiring to produce methamphetamines and possessing
    and transferring a restricted weapon.

    Blake, who played in 11 games over two seasons (1995 and 2000) with the
    Bombers, admitted he did have a loaded .357 Magnum handgun in his home at
    98 Bethune Way in St. Vital early Wednesday morning. That's when officers
    stormed the front door and arrested him and his wife.

    The 35-year-old boxing promoter said he told officers exactly where the gun
    was and that it was loaded. It was a Winnipeg police officer who suggested
    he get the firearm in the first place, Blake claimed.

    The former owner of Phat Daddy's Cabaret said he has had three death
    threats in the past year.

    After recently barring a group of street gang members from his Exchange
    District nightclub, Blake said the gangsters returned a short time later
    and fired several shots into the building at 165 McDermot Ave.

    READY TO GIVE AFFIDAVITS

    When he called police, an officer told him, "If I were you, Eddie, I would
    get it (a gun for protection)," Blake said.

    Blake, affectionately known as Earthquake, said he has six people who are
    ready to give affidavits supporting his claims.

    Blake was one of 17 Canadians, including 10 Manitobans, charged following
    34 cross-Canada raids Wednesday that netted police more than 20,000 pounds
    of ephedrine -- a main ingredient in the illegal drug methamphetamine --
    worth $14.5 million. They also seized approximately $3.5 million in cash.

    "None of it came out of my f---ing house," Blake said.

    Blake, who said he has never been arrested before, said he's made $300,000
    in the last three years -- all legally.

    He said he's reminded of a murder in Jasper, Texas, in 1998, when a black
    man was chained by his ankles to the bumper of a pickup truck and dragged
    for five kilometres.

    "They're trying to drag my reputation up and down the streets of Winnipeg
    only because I'm successful," Blake said.

    Blake,
    who owned Phat Daddy's with business partner Dean Chyzy, closed the
    nightspot late last month and started Flava 107.9, a radio station devoted
    to hip-hop and R & B music.

    Chyzy was also charged in the ephedrine network, which police allege was
    tied to organized crime in Vancouver, New York, California and Florida.

    The investigation, which includes the Drug Enforcement Agency in the U.S.,
    was continuing.

    Blake will be spending the weekend in jail after his bail hearing was
    postponed yesterday until later next week. Several of Blake's co-accused
    have already been granted interim release, but Crown attorney Clyde Bond
    said the Crown will be opposing the release of at least five people --
    Blake included.

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