Two and a half months after announcing a $23-million expansion of B.C.’s Guns and Gangs Strategy, the Province, with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC) and other police agencies – have made more progress on major, related initiatives.
- On June 28, the Province announced a new integrated community safety initiative (ICSI) which will strengthen collaboration among justice, health, social service, First Nations and community partners to better address the roots of crime and violence in the region. Williams Lake and the Cariboo-Chilcotin will receive up to $500,000 in civil forfeiture grant funding to support the ICSI. https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016PSSG0126-001155
- On June 12, the Province, with the support of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police, announced a provincewide firearms amnesty to be held this fall, Oct. 1-31. The amnesty will apply to firearms and other weapons, including restricted and prohibited ones that have not been used for a criminal purpose, and ammunition. Police leaders remind interested firearms owners to call their local police non-emergency line to arrange for officers to attend and retrieve the weapons: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016PSSG0121-001046
- A significant increase in drug-related overdoses and deaths prompted provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall to declare a public health emergency in March. He reported that in the first quarter of 2016, fentanyl was detected in half of B.C.s illicit drug deaths, up from nearly one-third of these deaths in all of 2015.
- The growing number of calls for service requiring first responders to deal with fentanyl prompted the Province, to provide civil forfeiture grant funding for specialized training. The two-day workshops, held in Victoria and Vancouver in June, focused on the dangers of fentanyl and another toxic substance, W-18, addressing safe handling and issues encountered at overdose scenes and other issues: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016PSSG0118-001025
- On June 15, Health Minister Terry Lake and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris sent a joint letter to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott urging the federal government to consider regulating pill presses and tableting machines. Morris also wrote the federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, requesting that Health Canada classify two precursors used to produce fentanyl as controlled substances under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
- Surrey RCMP sent a letter to parents explaining the current risks with illicit drugs such as fentanyl, and provided information about the drugs and tips for talking to their children. Vancouver PD, Abbotsford PD and others took similar action urging parents to speak with their children about the dangers of fentanyl to keep them safe over the summer.
Other initiatives currently underway:
- Specialized officers and staff who will form two new, 10-person gang disruption and interdiction teams within CFSEU-BC, B.C.’s integrated anti-gang organization, are being identified.
- Formation of an Illegal Firearms Task Force (IFTF) is underway and participants are being identified.
- Staffing of the new Office of Crime Reduction and Gang Outreach is also underway. This office will work with CFSEU-BC in support of the End Gang Life program, and with local governments and agencies on crime reduction and anti-gang outreach programs.
- Surrey Crown counsel will have two full-time prosecutors and a paralegal dedicated to prioritizing cases linked to guns and gangs.
- Development of a gang-exit strategy is underway and on-target for fall. It will support ongoing efforts by police to help gang members and associates who want to leave gang life.
Local efforts to engage and inform parents and community members – critical to undermining the roots of gang activity and gun violence continue. Over the last two months:
- Surrey’s purchase of 75 more cameras to monitor street-level violence is in progress, with installation anticipated in four to six months.
- Surrey RCMP recently launched the Surrey Helpline for Parents that provides assistance to parents who are concerned about their children becoming involved in illegal activities. It is available in English, Punjabi and French: 604 599-7800.
- As of June, all 100 new Surrey RCMP officers are in position. More officers can allow for reduced response times to calls, increased patrols and increased proactive enforcement efforts.
- @cfseubc (twitter.com) is out and about on the weekends with Community Engagement Teams from @SurreyRCMP (twitter.com) and many other communities in B.C. They’ve attended soccer events, international field hockey tournaments, interactive workshops for parents on Gang Awareness,and participated in Police Week open houses.
- New End Gang Life videos were produced this month – they’ll be available to communities throughout B.C. Stay tuned: #CFSEUBC (twitter.com) #StopGunsGangsBC (twitter.com) #EndGangLife (twitter.com)
- CFSEU-BC releases new high-impact End Gang Life posters.
- The Surrey Office of Public Safety Strategies has completed the consultation process that will help shape the new Public Safety Strategy. Almost 1,600 individuals have participated in focus group sessions, innovation forums, targeted outreach to stakeholder groups, questionnaires and an online survey conducted through CitySpeaks. The results of all of these sessions will be used to ensure development of a strategy that reflects the priorities of Surrey citizens, stakeholders and city staff. Over the summer, the Public Safety Team will be writing the Public Safety Strategy document, which is expected to be completed in September.
- Surrey youth anti-gang crime prevention projects have received over $150,000 in civil and criminal forfeiture grant funding – almost $2 million was provided provincewide to support gang and youth crime prevention projects.
The following are some recent enforcement announcements by police throughout B.C. which include:
- On June 29, three suspects were arrested after Abbotsford Police Patrol responded to a report of shots fired into the driveway of a residential home.
- One of two men nabbed in a drug trafficking investigation by the Prince George RCMP’s street crew unit has been sentenced to 191 days in jail. When arrested, police found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun within easy access of two of the children who live there.
- On June 27, Williams Lake RCMP arrested a man wanted on an outstanding warrant. A 33-year-old man was found to be in possession of a loaded .45 calibre handgun, a quantity of drugs, various style knives, brass knuckles and ammunition. He has been charged with eight offences.
- On June 26, Abbotsford Police Patrol attended a residence in West Abbotsford to execute a search warrant at a suspected marijuana grow operation. Police seized a total of 1,141 marijuana plants. The investigation showed that there was no valid marijuana grow licence from Health Canada for this property.
- On June 24, CFSEU-BC announced charges against 43 people and significant drug and firearm seizures by the organization’s North District Office. Items seized include an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun, 74 ounces of cocaine, approximately 700 fentanyl pill/capsules, 3.5 grams of crystal methamphetamine and about $70,000 in cash.
- On June 23, Prince George RCMP released initial details of a shooting at a Prince George residence that they believe is part of a string of recent home invasions targeting people involved in the local drug trade. Officers detained five individuals; the investigation is ongoing.
- On June 22, Sooke RCMP said an investigation into a shooting resulted in the arrest of five individuals known to the police. While responding to a call reporting gun shots, police encountered a vehicle driving away. The search of the vehicle produced a 12-gauge shotgun, a semi-automatic SKS assault rifle, magazines and ammunition along with suspected methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and numerous cellular telephones were also located and seized. The investigation is ongoing.
- On June 21, Sooke RCMP reported that charges were laid in the Ella Road shooting that took place on June 14 and lead to a manhunt to locate three suspects who fled the scene. The first suspect was found days before the other two suspects were found hiding in a crawl space inside a home. All three suspects have been charged with two counts of attempted murder in regards to a drive-by shooting.
- On June 21, the BC RCMP E Division Traffic Services said thanks to a call from the public about erratic driving, a 35-year-old man is facing charges of impaired operation of a motor vehicle and for procession for the purpose of trafficking with over 50 pills and $18,455 cash.
- The New Westminster Police Department reported that on June 14, 2016, their Street Crime Unit executed a number of search warrants at locations around the Lower Mainland, resulting in the seizure of a significant amount of drugs and cash. Charges are pending.
- On June 14, Kelowna RCMP performed a traffic stop with a Cadillac Escalade. The driver was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Found was 3.5 grams of suspected cocaine, along with various items consistent with illegal drug use and trafficking.
- On June 13, Prince George RCMP reported on a June 10 targeted shooting – multiple people attending a residence with firearms where an exchange of gunfire took place between those persons and the individuals inside. One occupant, known to police, was arrested. While some are believed to have fled the scene, three additional individuals were detained and investigators located a quantity of illicit drugs, cash and evidence of drug trafficking.
- On June 7, Delta Police Department issued a news release warning about W18, which spoke to an investigation that resulted in five individuals being arrested and over 20 charges of trafficking in a controlled substance. Charges are pending.
- On June 6, Surrey RCMP announced continued progress in disrupting the drug trade and the resulting violence that they’ve been dealing with this year. Eight individuals were arrested who police believe were associated with a number of shots fired in Surrey this year which brings the total number of arrests made over a three week period to 18. Surrey RCMP say all of those people are believed to be involved in drug trafficking and other related crimes.
- On May 31, charge approval against two individuals linked to an alleged clandestine drug lab in White Rock, where police seized firearms, fentanyl, other drugs and cash.
- On May 28, arrests related to the Wolfpack, a violent organized crime group, accompanied by a significant seizure of drugs, a gun and $25,000 cash from a Surrey residence.
- On May 27, multiple arrests and the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs in the Lower Mainland and Northern B.C., which CFSEU-BC linked to a Fraser Valley crime syndicate operating in the north.
- On May 25, eight arrests at multiple locations in Surrey, following an investigation begun in 2015 into a dial-a-dope trafficking operation in Surrey and Richmond.
- On May 20, a Kamloops man was arrested who police allege was linked to organized crime.