Date: Monday, March 4, 2024 

File: 23-40675 

Victoria, BC – In January, VicPD’s Strike Force arrested a man with a known association to the B.C. gang conflict, after he was observed selling vape products to students just outside school property.  

As part of an ongoing covert operation, dubbed Project Halo, officers observed the suspect selling vape products and interacting with students on and near school property in and around the Greater Victoria area during the day.  

The suspect was seen selling to youth across from local schools including Esquimalt High School and Reynolds Secondary School, and was also observed interacting with youth on the property of North Saanich Middle School after school hours. 

Items seized from the suspect include: 

  • 859 nicotine vapes 
  • 495 THC vapes 
  • 290 THC gummies 
  • 1.6 kilograms of dried cannabis 
  • Four imitation firearms 
  • Three knives 
  • Two masks 
  • Composite brass knuckles 

Project Halo continues as investigators work to identify and build evidence against more individuals involved in gang and criminal activity who are targeting youth in Greater Victoria. 

“I am proud of the work Strike Force has done in gathering intelligence and building evidence in order to make an arrest,” says Chief Del Manak. “This is not an easy task when we are on the outside looking in at schools, but our team is dedicated to taking action on gang activity. This is just one person of many who have been observed, and our message to those who are targeting our youth is ‘You are not welcome in our communities, you are not welcome in our schools. We see you, we are watching you, and we are coming for you.’” 

Through intel gathering, crime analysts and investigators have been able to identify some of the tactics used by gang members and their affiliates to target and train youth and young adults into organized crime. Tactics include: 

  • Targeting vulnerable youth, or those looking for a sense of belonging or connection. All youth regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status are being targeted. 
  • Using newly recruited youth or young adults to recruit more youth 
  • Using extortion as a primary tactic to recruitment: getting youth to sell vape products, setting up a scenario where they owe a “debt” to the provider and using threats of violence to get them to pay the “debt,” sometimes thousands of dollars.  

Youth victims are often fearful for their safety and are hesitant to report to police or cooperate with investigations for fear of a violent reprisal.  

The organized crime groups involved in selling vape products to youth are also involved in other criminal activities including drug trafficking, violence and weapons possession. These smaller, local gangs are often offshoots of larger gangs involved in the B.C. Gang Conflict.  

Integrated units like the Mobile Youth Services Team (MYST), which partners a police officer with a youth counselor to support high-risk youth that are often targeted for sexual exploitation or gang recruitment, have seen first-hand the impact this has on youth. “We have seen an aggressive shift in recruitment over the last year,” says Mia Golden, a counselor and one-half of the two-person MYST. “Now, gang members are targeting students in school as young as middle school, who are being groomed and recruited through selling products like vapes, designer clothing, or drugs.” Once the connection has been made, the youth are often tasked with selling the products and threatened if they do not comply. 

This investigation is ongoing and further details are not available at this time.  

Join The Conversation – Working Together To Protect Youth From Harm 

An effective way to combat gang influence in schools is through empowering parents to speak with their children about recruitment tactics and the risks and realities of gangs. VicPD is committed to working with school districts, parents, and caregivers, by sharing information and working to address this issue. Last year, VicPD alongside neighbouring police departments across Greater Victoria, began providing free gang information seminars to the community. Since then, over 600 parents have attended, with many citing an increased concern over the recent rise in gang-related activity in schools.  

VicPD has recently requested the reinstatement of School Police Liaison Officers in SD61 schools, which provide a strong deterrent to gang recruitment and a valuable on-site resource to students and educators.  

To learn more about key indicators of youth gang involvement, visit the End Gang Life website here. 

If you suspect gang activity, please call the E-Comm report line at 250-995-7654 extension 1. We are here to help keep you and your family safe.  

What Is Strike Force? 

Strike Force is a focused investigative unit of VicPD that uses various techniques and operations to support and advance complex investigations and identify and arrest dangerous and prolific offenders. These techniques include covert surveillance, undercover operations and intelligence gathering and analysis. 


We are seeking qualified candidates for both police officer and civilian positions. Thinking about a career in public service? VicPD is an equal-opportunity employer. Join VicPD and help us make Victoria and Esquimalt a safer community together.