Vancouver police say they've broken up a drug ring that was preying on vulnerable people in the city's Downtown Eastside using violence, torture and terror.

Eight people have been arrested, including a husband and wife accused of using extreme violence in drug dealings in the impoverished neighbourhood.

"We determined through our analysis that this group was preying on the most vulnerable people in this community: the addicted, the ill and women," Insp. Mike Porteous told reporters Thursday.

Porteous said a team of investigators from several different sections were brought together to target certain drug dealers in response to complaints from the community.

"As the case unfolded, we found that this group was a sophisticated criminal organization tied into organized crime in this province and abroad, who were operating a lucrative drug trafficking business in the Downtown Eastside," Porteous said.

In addition to a host of drug trafficking charges, some of the accused have been charged with commission of an offence for a criminal organization -- a "very rare" charge in B.C., Porteous said.

Charged are: Petros Soiles, 36, of Vancouver, and husband and wife Ngoc Le, 46 and Zhen Liu, 40, of Burnaby, along with Nolan Swallow, 29, of New Westminster, Lemar McCann, 28, of Surrey, Anthony Staniforth, 46, of Vancouver, Ellwood Bradbury, 20, of Surrey, and Pablo (Carlos) Diaz-Alvarado, 27, of Vancouver.

Police say more charges will be announced in the coming weeks.

Investigators also seized handguns, drugs, cash, luxury SUVs and a $30,000 watch from the suspects.

Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke said the drug dealers would cruise into the impoverished neighbourhood in high-end vehicles and leave people, especially women, living in fear.

"The women of the Downtown Eastside have told us that what they fear most are the predatory drug dealers who conduct their business with violence, torture and terror," Lemcke said.

"We have heard what the women and the community have told us and we have targeted the worst of the worst of these offenders."

Vancouver Police have established a program in the neighbourhood called Sister Watch, in response to the violence that has plagued the Downtown Eastside, including the murders of several women by serial killer Robert Pickton.

Lemcke said the two investigations that resulted in the arrests were under the umbrella of Sister Watch.