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Smash hits: B.C. civil forfeiture through the years

Highlights of the first decade of B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) include:

  • April 2006: B.C. is the second Canadian province with an active civil forfeiture program – one that goes on to help shape similar initiatives in half a dozen other provinces.
  • October 2007: The CFO becomes self-funding after just 18 months – half the time the Province had allotted at the program’s outset. At the time, forfeitures to date total about $2 million and more than 60 cases are ongoing.
  • November 2007: An emergency response team takes control of a Hells Angels clubhouse in Nanaimo. Police refer the results of the criminal investigation to the CFO, which moves to hold the two-storey building. Today, the office’s longest-running case remains before the courts, with a trial date set for 2017.
  • May 2008: A Williams Lake-area grow operation capable of producing more than 22,000 plants a year is forfeited.
  • July 2008: A customized Hummer H2 and a white GMC Denali become the first vehicles forfeited to the Province under a civil forfeiture action. The vehicles, which were linked to a “dial-a-dope” operation on Vancouver Island, are sold through the BC Auction website.
  • 2010: The CFO concludes 74 files this year, with property forfeited valued at $5.3 million.
  • January 2011: The Province announces that a five-bedroom home – once the site of a grow-op containing nearly 1,000 plants – has become the most valuable Vancouver property forfeited to date.
  • 2011: Following a string of murders linked to the drug trade, including the high-profile killings of two local high-school seniors, the Abbotsford Police Department becomes the first police agency to secure the use of a forfeited vehicle as a “rolling billboard” of vivid anti-gang messages. Officers attend schools and community events with the wrapped Hummer H2 to engage youth in discussions about the dangers of gang involvement.
  • February 2011: The CFO’s first full trial results in the forfeiture of two of three houses sought in relation to grow-ops on Vancouver’s eastern border.
  • March 2012: Police chiefs sign a memorandum of understanding enabling all B.C. policing agencies to participate in a provincial Fugitive Return Program – the first of its kind in Canada. Government commits annual funding from civil forfeiture proceeds to the newly expanded initiative, which flies fugitives back to provinces where they face serious charges. At the time, the CFO has already provided $100,000 to help return nearly 100 criminals.
  • March 2013: The CFO announces it will make forfeited vehicles available to more police agencies, in support of outreach efforts targeting youth and focused on combating gang and organized crime. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia obtains a BMW SUV to support its End Gang Life public awareness and outreach programs.
  • January 2014: The value of all concluded forfeitures since the program’s inception exceeds $40 million.
  • March 2016: The Province announces $7.2 million in community crime prevention grants, $5.5 million of it from civil forfeiture proceeds. This brings to nearly $7.7 million the total civil and criminal grant funding provided to youth anti-gang and crime prevention projects since 2011.
  • June 2016: New Westminster police unveil their “wrapped” Hummer H2 – the fifth forfeited vehicle provided to a police agency by the Province for anti-gang community outreach.