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

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Province restricts non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii amid COVID outbreak

Provincial staff will help enforce travel restrictions from islands, mainland

Strong season but no market for B.C.’s spot prawn fishers

Sector hopeful low prices will catch the eye of local prawn lovers

Fairview Terminal expansion receives regulatory approval

DP World expects expansion will add 300 jobs at the Prince Rupert facility

Community outbreak of COVID-19 confirmed on Haida Gwaii

Contact tracing has confirmed a total of 13 cases, according to Northern Health

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Most Read