– In total, officers seized 20 firearms, ranging from pistols and shotguns to assault style rifles
– The estimated total street value of the seized cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, and high-concentration fentanyl is about $30,000,000
A Joint Forces Operation (JFO) between Victoria Police Department’s Strike Force and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC (CFSEU-BC) has resulted in a $30,000,000 seizure of drugs, including high-concentration fentanyl, weapons, and cash in Victoria and the Lower Mainland. Three men have been arrested.
In early June, Victoria Police Department’s Strike Force team identified an organized crime group trafficking fentanyl in Victoria. Over the course of the months-long investigation, the Strike Force determined that the group was also trafficking fentanyl on the Lower Mainland. In addition, the Strike Force discovered that the fentanyl supply chain for this trafficking group was based in the Lower Mainland.
In August, the Strike Force investigators approached CFSEU-BC’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ATTF) with this information, and the two agencies initiated a JFO agreement. 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 17, Strike Force and CFSEU-BC officers conducted coordinated enforcement actions in Victoria and the Lower Mainland targeting the suspects in this investigation.
In Victoria, the Strike Force, working with Victoria Police Department’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. These locations included a suite in a multi-unit residential building in the 500-block of Fisgard Avenue, a suite in a multi-unit residential building in the 700-block of Fairfield Road, and a suite in a multi-unit residential building in the 1000-block of View Street. GVERT arrested one suspect at the Fairfield Road location. A second suspect was arrested in a vehicle in the 900-block of Yates Street. There were no injuries in the arrests.
In 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 man was arrested. These locations included a suite in a multi-unit residential building in the 1100-block of Seymour Street in Vancouver, a suite in a multi-unit residential building in the 4500-block of Halifax Way in Burnaby, and a single-family residence in the 1500-block of 80th Avenue in Surrey. UGET arrested the suspect in the 4500-block of Halifax Street in Burnaby. There were no injuries in the arrest.
The search of the locations in Victoria yielded over one kilogram of cocaine, over two kilograms of high-concentration fentanyl, over two kilograms of methamphetamine, and evidence of drug re-purposing and packaging for a trafficking operation, including over six kilograms of cutting agents. Strike Force officers also seized a replica assault rifle and $50,000 in cash.
The search of the locations in the Lower Mainland yielded a kilogram of MDMA (which is commonly referred to as ecstasy), two kilograms of methamphetamine, over 10 kilograms of high-concentration fentanyl, and evidence of drug re-purposing and packaging for a trafficking operation, including over 100 kilograms of cutting agents. Officers also seized a kilogram of sildenafil (which is commonly known as Viagra). A substantial amount of bulk currency was seized from the Lower Mainland locations, currently totalling $335,390, along with three luxury vehicles.
In addition, CFSEU-BC officers seized two sets of body armour, two carbine-style assault rifles, three shotguns, and seven pistols accompanied by a pistol suppressor or “silencer”, along with approximately 1,000 rounds of various calibres of ammunition. They also seized a variety of false identification documents.
On Friday, December 11, CFSEU-BC executed an additional search warrant at a storage unit in the 1600-block of Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam. Investigators seized two additional sets of body armour as well as eight firearms accompanied by three suppressors, and multiple magazines and various types of ammunition.
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. Initial analysis by Health Canada of the bulk quantities of fentanyl seized in this investigation has verified that the concentration ranges between 88 percent and 90 percent fentanyl. The quantities of fentanyl that were prepared for street level distribution, which contained cutting agents, were still found to be 13 percent concentration, which is extremely high and would likely contribute to an increase in overdoses. Typically, street level concentrations of fentanyl range from three to five percent.
The high-concentration of the bulk fentanyl enables massive profit margins when cutting the product down to millions of street level doses. The more than twelve kilograms 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. The Strike Force and CFSEU-BC will be recommending drug trafficking and firearms charges against one man from Calgary, one man from Surrey, and one man from Vancouver.
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak said: “When we talk about the scope of this project, this is the top of the fentanyl trafficking pyramid in British Columbia. This sends a strong message that police agencies are united across this province. We have a shared vision and every day we will continue to do the important work of making an impact against organized criminal groups in our communities. What is clear to us is that our work in this area is not done. The provincial opioid crisis continues to affect people from all walks of life, across all socio-economic groups. It reaches into our high schools and our homes. The tremendous outcome of this joint project is just one step in the targeted enforcement of drug traffickers harming our communities. We will continue to combat the unsafe supply of these toxic drugs, working to end the public health emergency and to save lives.”
Chief Officer of CFSEU-BC, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Michael LeSage, said: “While we can only speak to and disclose the preliminary results of this particular investigation, I am able to share that there have been dozens more investigations just like this one, by CFSEU-BC and our policing partners across the province, that have resulted in the seizures of guns and deadly chemical concoctions fortified with fentanyl. This investigation and others highlight the undeniable links between drugs, gangs and violence, all of which threaten the public safety of British Columbians. … The seizures made in this investigation, by both the CFSEU-BC and Victoria Police, have taken millions of potentially deadly doses of drugs off our streets and dozens of firearms. But our work is not done. CFSEU-BC is committed to our relentless pursuit of these people and the groups that they may be acting on behalf of. We will work tirelessly to hold the people targeted in this investigation accountable, but we are also continuing our efforts against others.”