BC – A major multijurisdictional transnational organized crime investigation by BC RCMP Federal Policing has led to the execution of 11 search warrants, in 5 municipalities across BC, with 4 suspects arrested, multiple firearms confiscated, and millions of doses of potentially toxic drugs and precursor chemicals seized.
In September 2022, the BC RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime program (FSOC) – Major Projects Team began an investigation into an organized crime group involved in illegal opioid drug production and distribution. The initial parts of the investigation quickly revealed that several individuals in this group were gang members involved in the ongoing violent gang conflict that has been unfolding across BC.
On March 1, 2023, FSOC Major Projects Team, and numerous partner agencies simultaneously executed 11 search warrants on locations in the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver, Delta, Richmond, and Surrey. These Search Warrants resulted in significant seizures of various types of finished pills and pressed tablets, three firearms, cash, electronic devices, significant quantities of precursor chemicals, and multi-kilograms of other illicit substances. Located at one of the sites was a significantly advanced pill pressing operation capable of producing approximately 60,000 pills per hour when in full operation. Although a large number of additional seized exhibits are still being processed, current estimates put the total quantity of pills seized to be in excess of one million tablets.
In addition to the BC RCMP FSOC Major Projects Team, other internal and external partners involved in this enforcement action operations included the BC RCMP Federal Policing Clandestine Laboratories Enforcement and Response team (CLEAR), the BC RCMP FSOC Border Integrity unit, the BC RCMP Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team (LMD-ERT), The Vancouver Police Department Emergency Response Team (VPD-ERT), North Vancouver RCMP, Richmond RCMP, Surrey RCMP, the Delta Police Department (DPD), the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), and the BC RCMP Legal Applications Support Team.
Acting Superintendent Jillian Wellard, of the BC RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime – Major Projects stated, “The indisputable timeliness of this enforcement action comes in the midst of a continuing public health emergency, which is in large part precipitated by the toxic supply of fentanyl that fuels the ongoing opioids crisis. The significant amount of illicit drugs seized, as well as the dismantling of this criminal network and their sophisticated pill-pressing operation has prevented millions of potentially lethal doses of toxic drugs from entering our communities.”
According to the latest publication by the Government of British Columbia Coroners Service, the number of lives lost to the lethal opioid crisis remains steady well into the first months of 2023, with the toxic drug supply taking approximately 7 lives per day, across the province. Figures from 2022 also indicate 82% of the illicit toxic drug related deaths took place indoors. Of these, 55% occurred in private residences, 29% in other residences that include social, and supportive housing, shelters, and other indoor locations; with 15% of deaths occurring outside, in vehicles, sidewalks, parks, etc.
With this ongoing investigation being in its preliminary stages, FSOC investigators continue to work closely with their domestic and international partners, while also assessing money laundering, and other related offences with the assistance of the BC RCMP Financial Integrity unit, and partner agencies such as the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). FSOC Major Projects will also continue to liaise with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) regarding charges against the four suspects arrested, well as other individuals connected to this investigation. While their identities cannot be revealed pending charge approval, at least one of the individuals arrested is currently ranked as a “Provincial Targeting Enforcement Priority” for his alleged involvement in the ongoing violent gang conflict in Metro Vancouver.
If you know anyone who may be struggling with addiction, you can seek assistance through the BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service Line at 1-800-663-1441. And if you have information about a crime and wish to report it, you may contact your local police agency, or report it anonymously by calling BC Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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