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

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

Stolen truck found in Christina Lake

Family happy the vehicle was found

Two more Johnson Flats properties given evacuation alerts

Forecast graphs for Boundary rivers show another spike for week of June 1

Boundary non-profits now eligible for emergency funds

Local charities can apply to get grants from the $40,000 pot, managed by the Phoenix Foundation

Trial date set in Castlegar RCMP shooting death

Constable Jason Tait has elected a jury trial.

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

Most Read