Police officers showed off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of seized items ranging from drugs, cash and weapons at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment Wednesday afternoon.
The seized items were obtained following a 10-month investigation that focused on alleged Red Scorpion gang affiliates by the Nanaimo RCMP projects team.
During the investigation, the team arrested three men after seizing 10 ounces of suspected fentanyl, $35,000 cash and four firearms from a home in the Linley Valley area in April. Three men were arrested and charged with various drug trafficking offences following the seizures.
The projects team also seized over 13 kilograms of dried cannabis, more than three kilograms of controlled substances believed to be cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and fentanyl, $93,000 in cash, passports, scales and cannabis oil from homes in Nanaimo, Vancouver and Richmond last month. Four individuals were arrested following the December seizures, although they have not been formally charged yet.
Sgt. Rob Christensen, who oversees the projects team, told reporters roughly $1 million worth of assets were seized – including drugs with an estimated street value of $350,000 and a Jeep Cherokee SRT – during the two busts. He said the seizures will have an impact on organized crime in the city.
“The impact here will be felt by them,” he said. “It will be significant for the short term. These groups, though, have an uncanny ability to recover.”
Nanaimo RCMP initially received a tip from a member of the public about someone in the city according to Christensen. He said team followed up on the tip and conducted an investigation that ultimately led to the arrests and seizure in April.
“We identified a certain individual that was trafficking in Nanaimo,” Christensen said. “We looked into his behaviours, ended up executing a search warrant on his residence and just through that process the exhibit analysis, we were able to further the investigation into other members of that group.”
Following the seizure, the project team’s investigation continued further, eventually resulting in the December seizures and arrests. Christensen said some of the four individuals arrested in December are known to police and that discussions are ongoing with Crown prosecutors about what charges to bring forward.
The investigation was longer and more intensive than what the project team normally handles according to Christensen, who said the only real surprise for officers was how successful the operation turned out.
“We were surprised at how successful we were able to make this investigation,” Christensen said. “We are a municipal-level drug enforcement section, we do have resource limitations.”
Additional details about how the Red Scorpions are involved were not disclosed. Christensen said their investigation leads them to believe that the Red Scorpions are involved.
“They are tied to this one drug line which we have seized items here behind us and they are connected to that line and this line is one of many that are operating currently in Nanaimo,” he said.
“A lot of those drug operations that are going on currently in Nanaimo will have organized crime connections and it is not necessarily those members directly here in Nanaimo, but further up their chain of command … there are links to multiple organized crime groups here in Nanaimo.”
At the end of the day, Christensen said it was a great feeling to remove guns and illicit substances from the streets, adding that the amount of drugs seized equates to roughly 11,000 doses.
“We have to look at it in a positive. We have to say how have we affected the community by removing this amount of substance from the streets and if we can say somebody won’t die or overdose from the substances we’ve been able to seize then those are the small wins,” he said.
— Nicholas M Pescod (@npescod) January 23, 2019
— Nicholas M Pescod (@npescod) January 24, 2019
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