Around $670,000 worth of illicit drugs and the equivalent of 29,000 “lethal doses” of fentanyl were seized this summer during a month-long combined effort from B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) and Southern Interior RCMP offices, officials say.
The aim of the collaboration, RCMP said, was to mitigate, disrupt and suppress gang and organized crime violence through proactive high-visibility enforcement, though, to date, there have been no arrests.
“During the summer months, with the increase in visitors to the Okanagan, the focused efforts of the Uniform Gang Enforcement Team team were essential to increasing the safety in public spaces within the community,” said Insp. Beth McAndie, investigative services officer for the Kelowna regional detachment in a press release.
“The presence and enforcement action provided was key to Kelowna’s ability to ensure public safety to our community.”
CFSEU said that in partnership with local RCMP detachments, “intelligence-led, proactive uniform-based patrols enhanced our collective effectiveness to disrupt gang activity and to interdict illegal weapons and commodities.”
Throughout the initiative CFSEU-BC UGET seized 1.8 kilograms of illicit drugs including, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and benzodiazepines, as well as 224 kilograms of non-government-issued cannabis and 211 grams of shatter, plus drug lab equipment.
House-sitters beware: Your trip could end at a border crossing
‘How about me’: Man arrested after commenting under police ‘Most Wanted’ list
An assortment of 47 weapons, including tasers, knives, machetes, hatchets, carbon fiber brass knuckles, bear spray, a metal baton and $12,570 in cash were also seized, CFSEU Supt. Allison Laurin said.
“You will notice a few firearms on the table. Some of these are airsoft and are at times indistinguishable from real firearms,” Laurin said. “We have seen through our investigations that these are being converted to fire live ammunition. This is an area of significant concern, as airsoft-style firearms are typically much easier to obtain, subject to less regulation.”
Increasingly, Laurin said, the police are seeing younger and younger individuals involved in drug dealing.
“We know from interviews of individuals trying to leave the gang life. But one of the top reasons you’ve become involved in gangs is for a sense of belonging. They’re drawn in by the myths of easy money and a false sense of loyalty from the group. Gangs use many tactics including music videos and social media as well as more traditional methods such as blackmail, creating indebtedness, or participation in violence to recruit new members,” she said.
“As a community, we need to make sure that our youth are able to find their sense of belonging in other ways.”
CFSEU-BC will continue to collaborate in coordinated policing efforts with local RCMP agencies to keep the Thompson/Okanagan region safe from the threats posed by organized crime and gang violence.
“We remain committed to a multi-faceted approach including enforcement, disruption and to help high-risk individuals who want to level the dead-end gang lifestyle,” she said.