Chad Gillies

The SWAT Arrest of Chad Gillies

On February 8, 2024 Chad Gillies, a Calgary businessman and musician was arrested for importing DMT (Ayahuasca) into Canada. His arrest raises a number of ethical and political questions around the use of Ancestral Medicines in Canada in general and the circumstances surrounding this high-profile arrest in particular. For an excellent article on the situation see this story on

On the day of the arrest, Chad was expecting an Ayahuasca delivery from DHL. Instead he got a visit from an undercover police officer posing as a DHL delivery man and then shortly afterwards the Calgary SWAT team conducted the arrest. Chad has no prior arrests, does not have firearms in his house and is not a registered firearm owner.

Chad was subsequently charged with importing DMT (Ayahuasca) and possession of psilocybin mushrooms. For details on the arrest itself, click here. For more information on Ayahuasca vs DMT see this article.

In an attempt to find out why this level of police resources was used to confiscate some Ayahuasca, referred to as DMT in the arrest warrant, we reached out to the  Corporate Data and Analytics Division of the Calgary Police Service and asked for any relevant statistics and  risk assessments by the CPS for DMT. Specifically we requested “the number of arrests and seizures of DMT in Calgary in the past year; perceived public threat and policing priorities regarding DMT and  statistics related to arrests, abuse and seizures of DMT in Calgary” over the past year.

The very succinct answer provided by Rebecca Davidson, Manager, Corporate Data and Analytics for the CPS was “Thank you for your research request. I have checked with our Drug Unit and we do not have data that would inform your research.”

In other words, the CPS has not conducted arrests and seizures of DMT in Calgary in the past year. They also have no public threat assessment or policing priorities for DMT.

Chad has vowed to fight the charges and AyahuascaCanada is assisting him in his defence efforts. On the political front AC will be investigating why a sophisticated joint undercover operation and SWAT arrest was undertaken that involved two Canadian law enforcement agencies. For a substance which, according to the CPS, had not resulted in any arrests or seizures within the last year and which doesn’t  appear to be an identified threat to the Calgary public.