Police have seized more than two kilograms of heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues as part of a long-term investigation into gang activity in the Vancouver area.
“We are seeing a definite upward trend of overdoses, primarily related to fentanyl and its analogues. The police are also seizing more fentanyl than we have in the past,” VPD Supt. Mike Porteous told reporters Wednesday. “It’s significant seizure relative to mitigating the opioid crisis.”
Porteous estimates the drugs are worth millions.
The five-month investigation, named “Project Tariff,” also led to the seizure of eight firearms, including several semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
Four alleged Lower Mainland gang members have been charged with various drug trafficking and firearms-related offences.
“We launched Project Tariff in response to increased reports of incidents of shots fired in Vancouver and the ongoing crime related to gang-activity,” Porteous said. “Over the course of the investigation, we obtained substantial evidence of trafficking of firearms, fentanyl, and other illicit opioids by this group.”
In March, Crown counsel approved charges for two of the men. Jagraj Mushki Nijjar, 23, has been charged with possession of a non-restricted firearm. Jaskaran Singh Heer, 22, is facing four charges, including possession of a restricted firearm and intentionally discharging a firearm.
On Thursday, Aug. 10, the investigation led to further charges against 21-year-old Harjot Singh Samra, who is accused of firearms trafficking and drug trafficking.
Gary Gurpreet Dhillon, 25, has been charged with possession of the proceeds of crime and drug trafficking.
Nijjar, Heer and Samra are from Vancouver, while Dhillon is from Richmond.
Porteous said it isn’t clear if these suspects or the seized weapons are connected to the recent spike in violence in communities such as Surrey and Abbotsford, but the VPD is working with partner agencies across the Lower Mainland to determine any possible links.
In the meantime, the superintendent said he wants to send a clear message to those who engage in criminal activity in the Vancouver area.
“Gangsters that carry these kinds of arms and are involved in shooting off weapons in this city…can expect significant enforcement action be taken such as this project,” he said.