Eight people allegedly involved in dial-a-dope drug lines were arrested by the RCMP last week in crackdowns connected to the rash of shootings in Surrey this year.
“I want to inform you that we are making progress. The difficult thing is you can’t always see the progress that we make and it can take time,” RCMP Asst. Comm. Bill Fordy said Monday.
The eight arrests bring to 18 the number who have been arrested over the past three weeks, and all have one thing in common: they are all believed to be involved in drug trafficking, Fordy said.
All 18 are facing more than 60 charges, including drug trafficking, extortion, dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, and possession of a loaded firearm.
“The individuals that we have been working, have been strategically targeted through intelligence-led, focused investigations and our officers continue to advance prosecutions against those people that are engaged in this criminal activity,” Fordy said.
The investigation has also led police to Langley, Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam and North Vancouver. The drugs seized include heroin, cocaine, and crystal methamphetamine.
“Drug trafficking is a crime with tentacles that reach across multiple jurisdictions. While a trafficker may reside in one city, they often sell or transport drugs in another,” he said.
“Despite my desire to reassure the public, I would be remiss if I was to compromise the integrity of any current or active investigation. I’d love to tell you every action that we’re taking, whether it be covert or overt…but if I was to share that with you, I also would share it with the very criminals that we target,” Fordy said.
The drug trade isn’t just a policing problem, he added. It’s a community problem.
That’s why the drug issue is also being tackled from the prevention/intervention perspective, he said.
Police are trying to connect with at-risk youth and their families, and a Surrey RCMP help line (604-599-7800) for parents and families dealing with drug issues, was launched May 11 to provide advice.
Fordy said 17 Surrey families have so far linked up with police for those guidance services.
Mounties are seeking two other drug-trafficking suspects: Surrey’s James Griffiths, 43, and Layla Low, 22, who are facing a combined 16 counts.
Two other suspects, Abdulhamid Sultan, 20, and Priya Sandhu, 23, were arrested last week and are facing drug trafficking charges.
Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said strides have been made since last month’s $23-million injection into B.C.’s Guns and Gangs strategy.
Two 10-person teams are currently being assembled to work as gang disruption and interdiction teams with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
“It’s not just every police officer that we’ll pull off the streets to go into these gangs. The police officers that we identify for these roles have to bring with them a level of expertise,” Morris said.
Installation of 75 cameras to monitor street-level violence is set to begin in the next four to six months, he said.
The tasking of two full-time prosecutors and a paralegal to work cases involving guns and gangs, who will work closely with police officers, is a significant move, Morris said.
Work is “well underway” on a province wide gun amnesty initiative, he said.
As part of Surrey’s Safe City project, 500 firearms and 3,000 rounds of ammunition have been turned over to Surrey RCMP pending their re-registration, while 50 unwanted firearms have been relinquished to police.
Since the latter part of April, a number of gun-and-gang-related arrests and enforcements have been made throughout B.C. including:
• April 22 (Langley)—search warrant leads to seizure of guns, ammunition, a crossbow, drugs, cash and two arrests
• April 25 (Williams Lake)—gun seizure and arrest after shots fired at former home of a person who claimed to be a local gang member
• May 4 (Prince George)—four people arrested, one charged, after April 29 targeted shooting in parking lot in downtown core
• May 17 (Surrey)—seven arrests following simultaneous searches of five North Surrey properties linked to dial-a-dope investigation
• May 19 (Coquitlam)—arrests of five men allegedly linked to drug trafficking organization, with seizure of cash, property and drugs (cocaine and MDMA)
• May 25 (Surrey)—eight arrests at several locations in Surrey following investigation that began with 2015 dial-a-dope trafficking operation in Surrey and Richmond
• May 27 (Lower Mainland/Northern B.C.)—multiple arrests and millions of dollars in illegal drugs seized, all linked to Fraser Valley crime syndicate operating in the north
• May 28 (Surrey)—arrests made related to violent organized crime group, including seizure of drugs, guns and cash from a home
• May 31 (White Rock)—charges approved against two people linked to clandestine drug lab where firearms, fentanyl, drugs and cash were seized