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Major police crackdown on B.C. gang violence leads to 59 arrests, weapons and drugs seized

Click to play video: 'Report card on B.C. gang violence program' Report card on B.C. gang violence program
WATCH: The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. says its project aimed at reducing gang violence is having success. Sarah MacDonald reports – May 9, 2019

The latest police crackdown on gang activity in B.C. resulted in nearly 60 arrests, along with the seizure of weapons, drugs — and a Skip the Dishes bag.

The 30-day initiative, dubbed Para Bellum, was led by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) along with Surrey RCMP and the Abbotsford Police Department, who announced the results Thursday.

Officers were deployed to identified “hot spots” across Surrey and Abbotsford during the month of March, which the CFSEU-BC has found to be a particularly active time for gang-related violence in the region.

WATCH: (Aired April 27) Veteran RCMP officer speaks candidly about gun violence plaguing Surrey

Click to play video: 'Veteran RCMP officer speaks candidly about gun violence plaguing Surrey' Veteran RCMP officer speaks candidly about gun violence plaguing Surrey
Veteran RCMP officer speaks candidly about gun violence plaguing Surrey – Apr 27, 2019

The initiative used data from the unit’s Strategic Research Office that showed particular days of the week and times of day when violent acts were known to occur.

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In the end, 59 people were arrested with 45 criminal charges laid, along with 111 charges under provincial statutes.

READ MORE: Surrey RCMP increase efforts to crackdown on known drug houses

Additionally, more than 40 weapons and firearms were seized along with several quantities of suspected cocaine, Xanax and fentanyl, and over one kilogram of crystal meth.

“This, combined with previous versions of this initiative, has given [us] the confidence in using historical data analysis … for proactive, anti-gang enforcement strategies,” Insp. Duncan Pound said Thursday.

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More than 2,000 people and 1,100 occupied vehicles were checked over the 30 days of the program, and 435 investigation files were created.

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Among the most eye-opening seizures uncovered was a Skip the Dishes bag that was allegedly used to carry and distribute drugs.

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Pound said the bag was seized during a traffic stop and was also used to distribute “other items” along with drugs. That operation is the subject of an ongoing investigation, he added.

Global News has reached out to Skip the Dishes for comment.

Pound said using the data to keep officers visible in the same hot spots could help reduce violent crime.

READ MORE: Longtime Surrey cop ‘frustrated’ by rise in violent crime after latest fatal shooting

“We’re not saying someone specifically is going to do something,” he said. “We’re saying these may be areas where, by adding a high-profile, visible police presence who are looking for potential problems, we’ll prevent something before it takes place.

“For me, this is a fascinating way of applying the historical data … in a way we haven’t done before.”

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