UPDATE: 2:15 p.m.
A month-long investigation by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) resulted in a massive drugs and weapons seizure, but no charges have been laid.
In a press conference Wednesday, Superintendent Alison Laurin CFSEU-BC’s deputy operations support officer confirmed no one involved in any of the seizures is in custody at this time.
The investigation took place in July and lead to the seizure of a number of drugs valued at $670,000 including 29,000 lethal doses of fentanyl.
Weapons were also seized including firearms, knives, machetes, brass knuckles and a metal baton.
"CFSEU uses a wide range of methods to combat and mitigate gang crime and I believe and time we can take a weapon such as the GSG-16 (semi-automatic rifle), they are on the table out of the streets and out of the hands of someone who may use it to commit public violence. We have done our job in terms of suppressing the gang violence that puts us all at risk."
Kelowna RCMP commander Supt. Kara Triance highlighted the differences in dealing with property crime versus gang activities.
"When we are dealing with property crime and those addicted to substances we are looking for the provincial government to respond with a health care response or with accountability through our jail system, the one system we have for incarceration. Property and violent crime that leads to these seizures and gang-related work must be held at the most serious level," she said.
Supt. Triance says gang-related crimes involve extensive work prior to presenting the case to Crown council.
"When we bring a case like this to court we are going to make sure that we have a very strong case of multiple levels of evidence collection including forensic labs, statements which can be difficult in cases with organized crime and all of the other surveillance and project related work that leads to that."
Kelowna RCMP Insp. Beth McAndie confirmed Wednesday that a homicide on August 2 in Kelowna was gang-related. A man was shot outside the Shell gas station near the corner of K.L.O. and Benvoulin roads at about 10 p.m. The victim died in hospital.
"We have been able to establish that one of the homicides that we had this summer, the victim of that incident did have direct ties to the Lower Mainland and the local gang groups and this investigation is currently active and ongoing," McAndie said.
UPDATE 11:35 a.m.
This past July, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia led a month-long initiative in collaboration with the Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon-North Okanagan, and Penticton RCMP Detachments, as well as BC Highway Patrol.
The investigation was designed to curb gang violence, mitigate, disrupt, and suppress violence through proactive and high-visibility enforcement.
An analysis of previous gang-related activity in the Thompson-Okanagan enabled the strategic deployment of the CFSEU-BC’s Uniform Gang Enforcement Team into identified areas during specific times of the day and days of the week. CFSEU-BC’s UGET worked with officers and analysts from the partner agencies to enhance their respective suppression and enforcement efforts.
“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-facetted approach including enforcement, disruption, and suppression, along with education to prevent gang involvement, and intervention and exiting services to help high-risk individuals who want to leave the dead-end gang lifestyle. I encourage you to visit our website at www.cfseu.bc.ca/end-gang-life to see how you can play a positive role in your community, school or family and help us end gang life” says Superintendent Alison Laurin, CFSEU-BC’s Deputy Operations Support Officer.
Throughout the initiative CFSEU-BC’s UGET seized:
- 1.84 kilograms of illicit drugs (e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, benzodiazepines etc.)
- 224 kilograms of non-government issued cannabis and 211 grams of shatter (plus drug lab equipment)
- 3 firearms (plus 6 other types of firearms – e.g. airsoft etc.)
- An assortment of 47 weapons (e.g., taser, knives, machetes, hatchet, carbon fiber brass
- knuckles, bear spray, metal baton etc.)
- $12,570 cash
The combined estimated street value of the illicit drugs is estimated at approximately $670,000 and the amount of fentanyl seized is equivalent to approximately 29,000 lethal doses.
UPDATE 11:11 a.m.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia conducted a month-long investigation in the Thompson-Okanagan, including Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton. The intent of the initiative was to mitigate and disrupt violence related to criminal activity.
The sweep netted drugs, firearms and cash with a combined street value of approximately $670,000.
ORIGINAL 10:44 a.m.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia is holding a joint press conference Wednesday in partnership with Kelowna RCMP.
Police will announce the results of a CFSEU-BC-led initiative this past summer aimed at reducing incidents of gang violence in the Thompson/Okanagan region.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available.