Strike Force Drug, Cash, and Handgun Seizures
In July, Strike Force initiated a project targeting organized crime in Victoria. In the course of the months-long investigation, officers identified a supply chain of high-concentration fentanyl being trafficked locally.
On the afternoon of October 21st, Strike Force, working with the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT), arrested a suspect associated to organized drug trafficking in the 0-block of Dallas Road. There were no injuries in the arrest. During the arrest officers seized 1 kg of high-concentration fentanyl. Drug analysis by Health Canada revealed the seized kilogram to be an unusually rare, high-concentration of fentanyl. The wholesale value of this kilogram of 90% fentanyl is $140,000. The street value is over $1,000,000. This is enough fentanyl to supply an estimated 495,000 lethal doses to our community.
As part of the same investigation, Strike Force officers, working with GVERT, arrested three people from Surrey on November 13th as a result of a vehicle stop. The three occupants of the vehicle had been identified by Strike Force as organized drug traffickers operating in Victoria. Strike Force officers searched the vehicle and located drugs, including fentanyl and cocaine, and a significant amount of cash. A Community Services Division (CSD) officer trained in locating hidden vehicle compartments assisted with the search. The officers located a hidden compartment behind the radio and temperature controls on the centre console of the vehicle. Within the compartment, officers located a loaded .45 calibre handgun. The firearm was easily accessible to occupants of the vehicle from within the hidden compartment.
Strike Force officers then executed search warrants on two suites associated to the suspects at a hotel in the 700-block of Douglas Street. Within each suite, officers located evidence of a drug trafficking operation, including quantities of fentanyl, cocaine and cash. In total, the search of the vehicle and two hotel suites yielded nearly $60,000 in cash, cocaine and fentanyl with an estimated street value of $50,000 as well as the loaded .45 calibre handgun.
Joint Force Operation Results in $30,000,000 Seizure of Drugs, Weapons, and Cash
In early June, VicPD’s Strike Force team identified an organized crime group trafficking fentanyl in Victoria. In August, Strike Force investigators approached CFSEU-BC’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ATTF) with this information, and the two agencies initiated a Joint Forces Operation agreement. In August, a coordinated, joint investigation dubbed “Project Juliet” was launched. Strike Force officers focused on the group trafficking fentanyl in Victoria, and CFSEU-BC targeted the individuals associated to the lower mainland fentanyl trafficking operation and supply chain.
On November 17th, Strike Force and CFSEU-BC officers conducted coordinated enforcement actions in Victoria and the lower mainland targeting the suspects in this investigation.
In Victoria, VicPD’s Strike Force, working with VicPD’s Community Services Division, CFSEU-BC’s Island Team, and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT), executed four search warrants on three separate residential locations and one vehicle. Two individuals were arrested. On the lower mainland, CFSEU-BC, working with the Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET), Surrey RCMP, and the Vancouver Police Department’s Emergency Response Team and Forensic Identification Unit, executed five search warrants on three separate residential locations and two vehicles. One individual was arrested.
In total, officers seized 20 firearms in this investigation, ranging from pistols and shotguns to assault style rifles. Several of these rifles were modified to be fully automatic, and many of the firearms had serial numbers removed. The estimated total street value of the seized cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, and high-concentration fentanyl in this joint operation is approximately $30,000,000. Officers seized high-concentration fentanyl in both bulk and street level quantities. The more than 12 kg of high-concentration fentanyl seized in total in this investigation is enough to supply an estimated 3,965,000 lethal doses.
The investigation remains ongoing. Strike Force and CFSEU-BC will be recommending drug trafficking and firearms charges against one person from Calgary, one person from Surrey, and one person from Vancouver.
Project Holiday Connect
From December 8-18, VicPD launched “Project Holiday Connect”, an initiative aimed at increasing consistent, high-visibility presence around the downtown area, local shopping centres, and parkades of both Victoria and Esquimalt to deter theft and other holiday shopping-related crime.
The project was staffed by officers on regular duty within VicPD’s Community Services Division and Community Resource Officers from Esquimalt Division. Due to COVID-19, members did not go into businesses but engaged with community members from the street. CSD members listened to the concerns of businesses and provided advice on ways to improve personal and commercial safety. During proactive patrols, members dealt with any on-view street disorder or criminal activity (i.e. trespassers, thefts in progress, etc.). CSD generated a number of files as a result of the project including retail theft, a file involving a stolen dog and bicycle, street-level drug dealing, COVID-Related Measures Act complaints, a robbery involving youth, and a missing person file. The project was supported by the DVBA, Downtown businesses, and the local malls who are regularly calling for more police presence and would be happy to see these types of projects on a regular basis.