More than a dozen people have been arrested after police shut down a “dial-a-dope” operation in Delta and Richmond.
Delta police say a concern from the community regarding drug dealing in South Delta led to the arrests, as well as the seizure of several firearms,vehicles and a large amount of drugs, with evidence linking the operation to the Hells Angels and United Nations gang.
According to a DPD release, the department’s crime reduction unit (CRU) began investigating a dial-a-dope operation in South Delta in August. There were two main thrusts to the investigation, dubbed “Project Rolling Thunder” and “Project Big Smoke,” with warrants being executed in two locations in Delta and three in Richmond.
Project Rolling Thunder, which took place in Delta this fall, resulted in police seizing over a kilogram of powder cocaine;, hundreds of individually packaged amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl, crack cocaine, ecstasy and oxycodone; 330 grams of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), plus approximately 70 pounds of illicit cannabis.
Though the volume and value of drugs is still being tabulated by a drug expert, police estimate the total street value of the drugs seized to be about $250,000.
Along with the drugs, police seized several firearms, including a Carl Walther Waffenfabrik PPLS 9mm pistol with a loaded magazine, a Swiss Arms .22-calibre pistol, a Heckler and Koch .40-calibre pistol and an SKS-style 7.62mm semi-automatic rifle, as well as a Taser and body armour.
Investigators also seized approximately $193,000 in cash, $70,000 worth of engagement rings, two “side by side” ATVs, three Harley Davidson Motorcycles with “support your local Hells Angels” stickers, and seven additional vehicles, some with hidden compartments for transport of illicit goods.
“What had started as a response to community frustration over street level drug dealing, quickly grew into a significant investigation for our crime reduction unit,” Supt. Kelly Young, head of the DPD’s investigations bureau, said in a press release. “In addition to the drugs and firearms seizures, our initial search warrants yielded even more information to keep the investigation going.”
On Oct. 28, DPD’s crime reduction unit, with the assistance of Richmond RCMP, E-Division RCMP, the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team and the B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, executed search warrants at the three suspected commercial marijuana grow operations in Richmond as part of Project Big Smoke.
Investigators believe a large-scale illicit cannabis production and distribution enterprise was operating under the guise of a licensed medical marijuana producer.
Police seized 18,145 plants and 1,394 pounds of dried cannabis ready for street sale, the latter with a value of $1.8 million.
“Investigators believe these sites were capable of producing approximately $18 million annually [in] black market cannabis sales,” Young said.
Evidence seized indicate links to organized crime, specifically the Hells Angels and the United Nations gang, police say.
Investigators anticipate forwarding a number of criminal charges to Crown counsel under both the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Cannabis Act.
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