Friday, March 31, 2017

Eight charged in second largest drug bust in Victoria's history

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Eight charged in second largest drug bust in Victoria's history

RCMP and Victoria police Wednesday announced the second-largest drug bust in the history of the city's police department, one year after the contraband was seized in a complex sting operation involving wiretaps and undercover surveillance in communities all over the south island.
"This is a massive bust for the Victoria area," said Staff Sergeant Dave Goddard of the RCMP's federal drug enforcement branch.
"I think you can safely say [the street value]is in the millions of dollars. We're looking at an organization that was capable of bringing into Victoria one to 10 [kilograms]at any given time."
A sampling of evidence on display at RCMP headquarters Wednesday included half a dozen one-kilogram blocks of cocaine, several oversized Ziploc bags stuffed with thousands of ecstasy tablets and steroid pills, at least $50,000 in cash and a 9-mm Glock handgun.
Police said a host of drug possession and drug trafficking charges have been laid against eight individuals - six from Victoria, one from Shawnigan Lake and one from Chemainus.
RCMP have issued Canada-wide arrest warrants for three other men - 31-year-old Gerrod Leslie Badham of Shawnigan Lake, 27-year-old Jimmy Ou Yang of Vancouver and 23-year-old Charlie Huy Tran of Vancouver.
Most of the alleged offences occurred from July, 2008, to September, 2008, but according to court records, the charges weren't approved by the Crown until last month
Victoria police Inspector Clark Russell, a senior member of the Vancouver Island major crimes unit, said rigorous federal disclosure requirements and the need to catalogue vast amounts of wiretap evidence and other exhibits prevented police from announcing the seizure until this week.
Insp. Russell said that except for a 16-kilogram cocaine seizure that Victoria police made in 2006, last September's drug bust was the largest he can remember during his 30 years in the department.
Despite the large amount of drugs and cash involved in last fall's raids, RCMP said the suspects do not appear to be linked to any well-known B.C. gangs.
"Just because there's no association to any known gangs doesn't mean these aren't organized criminal groups," Staff Sgt. Goddard said.
The investigation began in 2007, when RCMP noticed a spike in the amount of cocaine available on Vancouver Island. After five months of groundwork, police received judicial approval to tap the suspects' phones.
Most of the suspects named yesterday were arrested last summer during a Victoria police crackdown on street-level drug dealers that also targeted a "dial-a-dope" operation linked to the Vancouver-based Red Scorpions gang.
On Sept. 9, 2008, Victoria police and the RCMP drug squad seized 2.2 kilograms of cocaine, 3.3 kilograms of ecstasy, 230 vials of steroids and about $60,000 in cash from two Victoria area homes.
A series of "warrant executions and seizures" two weeks later - at locations police yesterday declined to identify - netted another nine kilograms of cocaine along with drug trafficking paraphernalia including money counters and a vacuum sealer.
Regionally, the largest drug seizure on record occurred in 2001 RCMP intercepted a cargo ship laden with 2 ½ tonnes of cocaine.
RCMP have charged the following individuals with drug-trafficking and possession for the purposes of trafficking:
- 30-year-old Chad Stevenson of Shawnigan Lake;
- 29-year-old Alfred Sun-Kin Kong of Victoria;
- 29-year-old Ryan Charles Sranko of Victoria;
- 29-year-old Jesse Timmerman from Victoria;
- 29-year-old Jason Conrad of Chemainus;
- 31-year-old Bich Ngo of Victoria;
- 33-year-old Jarrod Francis Nicol of Victoria;
- 34-year-old Asif Riaz Khan of Victoria;
The following three persons are subject to Canada-wide arrest warrants in relation to this case.
- 31-year-old Gerrod Leslie Badham of Shawnigan Lake;
- 27-year-old Jimmy Ou Yang of Vancouver;
- 23-year-old Charlie Huy Tran of Vancouver.