Delta drug investigation shuts down $18-million operation

A concern from the community regarding drug dealing in South Delta has now led to the arrests of more than a dozen people in Delta and Richmond. Firearms, a large amount of drugs, and vehicles have been seized with evidence indicating links to the Hells Angels and the UN gang.

In August, the Delta Police Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) began investigating a dial-a-dope operation in South Delta. Dubbed “Project Rolling Thunder” and “Project Big Smoke” there were two main thrusts of the investigation. Warrants were executed in two locations in Delta, and three locations in Richmond:

Project Rolling Thunder:

* Total cash seized – approximately $193,000
* Jewelry – $70,000 worth of engagement rings
* Vehicles – 2 ATV side by sides, 3 Harley Davidson Motorcycles (“support your local Hells Angels” stickers), plus 7 additional vehicles, some with hidden compartments for transport.
* Weapons – Carl Walther Waffenfabrik PPLS 9mm Cal with loaded magazine (pistol), Swiss Arms .22 Cal (pistol) Heckler and Koch .40 CAL (pistol), SKS Style Assault Rifle 7.62mm, Taser, body armour
* Drugs: Over a kilogram of powder cocaine, hundreds of individually packaged amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl, crack cocaine, ecstasy, oxycodone, 330 grams of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and approximately 70 lbs of illicit cannabis.
* Drug total street value: The volume and value of drugs is still being tabulated by a drug expert, but an initial estimate is $250,000.
“What had started as a response to community frustration over street level drug dealing, quickly grew into a significant investigation for our Crime Reduction Unit,” said Superintendent Kelly Young, head of the Investigations Bureau for Delta Police, on Wednesday. “In addition to the drugs and firearms seizures, our initial search warrants yielded even more information to keep the investigation going.”

On October 28, Delta Police CRU with the assistance of Richmond RCMP, E-Division RCMP, the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team, and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – BC, executed search warrants at the three suspected commercial marijuana grow operations in Richmond.

Project Big Smoke:

* Police believe a large scale illicit cannabis production/distribution operation was operating under the guise of a medical marijuana license.
* Total cannabis seized: 18,145 plants and 1,394 pounds of dried cannabis ready for street sale. ($1.8 million value of dried cannabis)
“Investigators believe these sites were capable of producing approximately $18 million dollars annually of black market cannabis sales,” said Young.

Evidence seized indicate links to organized crime, specifically the Hells Angels and the UN Gang, police said.

Investigators anticipate forwarding a number of criminal charges under both the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Cannabis Act to Crown Counsel.