UPDATE | 15 of the 17 people have been arrested on the outstanding warrants. The two men who remain outstanding are both wanted for trafficking fentanyl.
Date: Wednesday August 26, 2020
Victoria, BC – Seventeen people, 15 men and two women, face 18 drug trafficking charges after VicPD Strike Force, Community Services Division and Patrol officers participated in an undercover operation in Centennial Square. Officers have arrested five of these individuals. Twelve of these individuals remain wanted on warrants.
Officers were deployed in Centennial Square in response to increased violent crime linked to the drug trade in the area. The violent incidents included the shooting of City Hall windows with a compressed air gun, multiple assaults and two stabbings on August 10th.
From August 11th to 15th, 2020, undercover officers posed as customers and purchased drugs from tents located in Centennial Square. These drugs included methamphetamine, cocaine, psilocybin and fentanyl.
During the investigation, officers learned that several tents were used primarily for drug trafficking on a rotating basis. Officers observed that one day a tent would be used for drug transactions, while the next day bedding would be moved into the tent for someone to sleep in. The following day, the bedding would be removed and the same tent would revert to being used for drug trafficking.
Officers conducted surveillance throughout the operation. It was during this time that officers noted that at least one of the suspects left their residence, drove their vehicle to Centennial Square, and parked a block away. They then attended a tent in the square, which was set up to conduct drug trafficking. Additional surveillance led VicPD officers to stop a man who had entered Centennial Square with a concealed weapon. When officers spoke to the man, he remarked that he was armed with a concealed metal club as protection against the violence in Centennial Square.
Undercover officers reported that they themselves experienced threats of violence while working in Centennial Square.
Warrants for drug trafficking charges were issued for all 17 accused people in this investigation. To date, officers have arrested five of the accused.
Jamaal Ali Johnson, a 41-year-old Victoria man, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
Desaree Gloria-Lee Solley, a 35-year-old Victoria woman, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
Tomas Paul Podhora, a 28-year-old Victoria man, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
Julian Michael Peterson, a 23-year-old Victoria man, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
Release stipulations will include conditions not to attend Centennial Square.
Twelve individuals remain wanted on outstanding warrants in relation to this investigation. An additional individual faces a robbery charge related to the investigation.
We will continue to update you on our efforts to locate and arrest those wanted on these warrants.