Vancouver police seized nearly $3 million of drugs as part of a four-month operation in 2020. (VPD)

Gangs producing drugs to get around border closures: Vancouver police

Washington State Patrol troopers haven’t seen any increase in arrests, seizures related to drug trafficking across the border with B.C.

Gangs may be turning to producing illegal drugs in an effort to get around pandemic border closures and scrutiny on shipping routes, Vancouver police say.

Police say they seized millions of dollars worth of drugs, including 20 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, from five locations around Vancouver and neighbouring Richmond as part of a four-month long investigation.

“This is probably the most fentanyl I’ve seen in one spot in my 24 years of drug enforcement,” said Inspector Bill Spearn, with the department’s organized crime section, at a news conference on Wednesday.

Police also seized guns, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis.

READ MORE: Vancouver police seize nearly $3M in street drugs, eight handguns after four-month probe

B.C.’s coroners’ service has said fentanyl is a main factor in the surge in overdose deaths in the province and over 4,700 people have died since the government declared a public health emergency four years ago.

The seizure comes as B.C. police grapple with gangs and organized crime groups changing trafficking practices due to border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vancouver Police Department previously said it had not seen a drop in drugs flowing into the city and the metro region or a change in prices, prompting questions about how gangs were maintaining their drug supplies.

Spearn said the seizure shows gangs may be turning towards producing their own drugs to get around border closures.

“I think a lot of it is still coming in through the ports, still coming in through the borders, but a lot of it could be produced locally, and that’s always been a concern of ours. Once you shut down those smuggling routes, you start seeing that domestic production,” he said.

Spearn disputed the idea that there was a drug shortage in the city, adding that the seizure shows there is a large supply of illegal drugs in the region.

Washington State Patrol said in a statement that its troopers had not seen any increase in arrests or seizures related to drug trafficking across the border with B.C. since the shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, British Columbia’s gang task force, previously said it was seeing a drop in illegal drugs on the street with prices for those drugs rising.

Eight people were arrested during the seizures but have been released with police expecting charges to be recommended in the coming months.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon rapper feeds the need amid Strange Times

NOX donates to Food Bank for every stream

Armstrong restaurant heading to Shuswap

Fairways Bistro at Royal York Golf Course closes due to COVID but will reopen in Salmon Arm

Fundraiser launched to support Vernon gym owners forced to close amid COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announced permanent closure of facility May 25

Salmon River upgraded to flood watch, residents warned to protect property

Forecast of high temperatures, rain could lead to rapid rise in waters in North Okanagan, Shuswap

Reconsider downtown Vernon OD prevention site: city council

Several members of council voiced concerns about Interior Health’s expansion

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Peachland recovery task force proposes larger patios

Several initiatives proposed by the Peachland COVID-19 recovery task force will go to council tonight

Fatal motorcycle crash on Highway 97 near Summerland

The incident involving a motorcycle happened just before 4 p.m.

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read