Vancouver police seized nearly $3 million of drugs as part of a four-month operation in 2020. (VPD)

Gangs producing drugs to get around border closures: Vancouver police

Washington State Patrol troopers haven’t seen any increase in arrests, seizures related to drug trafficking across the border with B.C.

Gangs may be turning to producing illegal drugs in an effort to get around pandemic border closures and scrutiny on shipping routes, Vancouver police say.

Police say they seized millions of dollars worth of drugs, including 20 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, from five locations around Vancouver and neighbouring Richmond as part of a four-month long investigation.

“This is probably the most fentanyl I’ve seen in one spot in my 24 years of drug enforcement,” said Inspector Bill Spearn, with the department’s organized crime section, at a news conference on Wednesday.

Police also seized guns, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis.

READ MORE: Vancouver police seize nearly $3M in street drugs, eight handguns after four-month probe

B.C.’s coroners’ service has said fentanyl is a main factor in the surge in overdose deaths in the province and over 4,700 people have died since the government declared a public health emergency four years ago.

The seizure comes as B.C. police grapple with gangs and organized crime groups changing trafficking practices due to border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vancouver Police Department previously said it had not seen a drop in drugs flowing into the city and the metro region or a change in prices, prompting questions about how gangs were maintaining their drug supplies.

Spearn said the seizure shows gangs may be turning towards producing their own drugs to get around border closures.

“I think a lot of it is still coming in through the ports, still coming in through the borders, but a lot of it could be produced locally, and that’s always been a concern of ours. Once you shut down those smuggling routes, you start seeing that domestic production,” he said.

Spearn disputed the idea that there was a drug shortage in the city, adding that the seizure shows there is a large supply of illegal drugs in the region.

Washington State Patrol said in a statement that its troopers had not seen any increase in arrests or seizures related to drug trafficking across the border with B.C. since the shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, British Columbia’s gang task force, previously said it was seeing a drop in illegal drugs on the street with prices for those drugs rising.

Eight people were arrested during the seizures but have been released with police expecting charges to be recommended in the coming months.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Accessibility for disabled still an issue in Sooke

Room for improvement, says councillor

Saanich man dies from injuries after serious crash on Six Mile Road

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

Hearing ahead for blind community’s B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case against Victoria bus stops

The Canadian Federation of the Blind says bike lanes can be dangerous

View Royal resident spots bear in Portage Park

West Shore RCMP confirms report of sighting, Conservation notified

Ninja groups could be setting children up for identity theft, online safety expert says

‘When I started seeing entry codes into secure buildings, I’m thinking oh my God, what are we doing?’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

COVID-19: B.C. landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

SOOKE HISTORY: Log booming on the San Juan River

Booming crews sorted the logs into booms bounded by cables for towing by tugboat to sawmills

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Most Read