Millions of dollars’ worth of property seized
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Back in the fall of 2014, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) had suspicions of drug trafficking to residents in the Downtown’s Eastside with potential shipping to Vancouver Island and Alberta, and began an investigation known as Project Trooper. Little did they know that the seven month-long investigation would open up a treasure trove of drugs, guns, and money. Thanks to 11 search warrants spanning multiple cities from Vancouver to Maple Ridge, the investigators were able to begin to place the pieces of the puzzle together.
By April 2015, the VPD had finally cracked the case and brought a sophisticated drug distribution network to its knees.
Nearly 10 months later, charges have been placed against 6 people. The accused, all in their 30s and 40s, each hold multiple counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, with four of them charged for possession of a restricted or prohibited weapon with access to ammunition without a license.
The items seized included “$575,000 in cash, 19 kilograms of cocaine, 1.7 kilograms of heroin, 12.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, 23,763 fentanyl pills, 228 kilograms of phenacetin, 6 handguns, 2 shotguns, 4 rifles, 8 vehicles (4 with hidden compartments), and an estimated $3.78 million in property including a Downtown Eastside apartment building, a New Westminster townhouse, and a Coquitlam home,” according to the VPD’s media release.
Last year, a group of provincial health organizations, alongside the VPD, rolled out an awareness campaign focused on the dangers of fentanyl. In an effort to educate those who know little to none about the drug, police simply want users to become more cautious with their suppliers and the possibility of lethal doses.
“Project Trooper is another example of the alliance between law enforcement agencies in the Lower Mainland,” said Vancouver Police Superintendent Mike Porteous in a press release. “We have a common goal, and that is to target violent and dangerous criminals and take them off the street.”
On a similar note, VPD officials have been notified of high numbers of drug overdoses since the end of January. Police have counted 11 deaths due to overdoses in the Downtown’s Eastside neighbourhood in the past 16 days preceding February 5, well above the average of 3 deaths a week. Fentanyl is suspected to be the cause.
Thanks to the initiative KnowYourSource.org, civilians have no excuse to be unaware of the deadly consequences. The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose are sleepiness, slow heartbeat, shallow breathing, clammy skin, and trouble walking and/or talking. If a person chooses to use fentanyl, the organization advises the user to be sure to use only a small amount and never to do it alone.