Sunday, July 21, 2024

Three men charged in massive $30M drug bust in Victoria dating back to 2020

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Three men have been charged in connection to a massive police operation in Victoria and the Lower Mainland that saw $30 million worth of fentanyl, drugs, firearms and cash seized in 2020.

The charges were confirmed in a joint statement by the Victoria Police Department and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC (CFSEU-BC).

In June 2020, the VicPD Strike Force team identified an organized crime group trafficking high concentration fentanyl in Victoria back in June, 2020.

The bust, which VicPD reported in December 2020, occurred after a months-long joint investigation between the two agencies.

During the investigation, police found that the same group was trafficking fentanyl on the Lower Mainland, which is where the fentanyl supply chain for this group was based.

In August 2020, a joint investigation between Victoria Police and CFSEU-BC’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force was launched, targeting suspects in Victoria and on the Lower Mainland.

Four search warrants were executed in Victoria on November 17th of that year, targeting three separate residential locations and one vehicle.

The sites included an apartment suite in the 500-block of Fisgard Avenue, one in the 700-block of Fairfield Road, and a suite in the 1000-block of View Street.

One suspect was arrested at the Fairfield location, while another was taken into custody after he was found in a vehicle in the 900-block of Yates Street.

Meanwhile, investigators on the mainland arrested one man connected to this trafficking ring.

“Over the course of this investigation a total of nine search warrants were executed, six on residences in four jurisdictions and three on luxury vehicles,” read the joint statement.

Drugs, cash, weapons seized

In Victoria, a search of the locations where search warrants were executed yielded over one kilogram of cocaine, over two kilograms of high-concentration fentanyl, over two kilograms of methamphetamine, and evidence of drug re-purposing and packaging for a trafficking operation, including over six kilograms of cutting agents.

Police also found $50,000 in cash and a replica assault rifle.

On the Lower Mainland, investigators found a kilogram of MDMA, two kilograms of methamphetamine, over ten kilograms of high-concentration fentanyl, and evidence of drug re-purposing and packaging for a trafficking operation, including over one hundred kilograms of cutting agents.

Officers also seized a kilogram of sildenafil (Viagra), a substantial amount of bulk currency currently totalling $385,390, and three luxury vehicles.

CFSEU-BC officers also seized two sets of body armour, two carbine-style assault rifles, three shotguns, and seven pistols accompanied by a pistol suppressor or “silencer”, along with approximately 1,000 rounds of various calibres of ammunition. They also seized a variety of false identification documents.

Another search warrant was executed at a storage unit in Coquitlam on December 11th in relation to this same group. There, police found two more sets of body armour as well as eight firearms with three suppressors, and multiple magazines and various types of ammunition.

All in all, 20 firearms were seized during this investigation, several of which were modified to be fully automatic and many of which had serial numbers removed.

This morning, police announced charges against Victoria resident Brian James Balla, a 34-year-old man originally from Calgary, Vue Bao Nguyen, also 34 and from Surrey, and Brent William Van Buskirk, a 35-year-old man from Vancouver.

Balla faces eight charges which include:

  • 5 counts have been approved under Section 5(2) CDSA for Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking in a Controlled Substance
  • 3 counts have been approved under Section 5(1) CDSA for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance

He was taken into custody February 9th, 2022 in Victoria and is awaiting a bail hearing.

Nguyen faces 10 charges which include:

  • 7 counts have been approved under Section 5(2) CDSA for Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking in a Controlled Substance
  • 3 counts have been approved under Section 5(1) CDSA for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance

Nguyen was taken into custody this morning, February 10th, and will remain remanded pending a hearing.

Van Buskirk faces 13 charges which include:

  • 8 counts have been approved under Section 95(1) Possess a prohibited firearm without authorization
  • 2 counts have been approved under Section 92(1) Possess a non-restricted firearm without a license
  • 3 counts have been approved under Section 5(2) CDSA for Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking in a Controlled Substance

At the time of his arrest, Van Buskirk was on parole for a 2004 murder conviction. He had his parole revoked due to his arrest and is being held in custody awaiting the judicial process.

“Working with our partner agencies to target and hold accountable those involved in illegal gun crime and trafficking of dangerous drugs is a priority for CFSEU-BC,” said assistant commissioner Manny Mann, CFSEU-BC’s Chief Officer.

“This joint investigation with the Victoria Police is another example of the joint forces work CFSEU-BC does around the province and of the ongoing effort and commitment that we have made to take potentially lethal drugs off our streets and take guns out of the hands of those who choose to put everyone at risk.”

VicPD Chief Manak said the operation has taken potentially deadly drugs off the streets at a time when they are killing more British Columbians than ever.

“In a year where over 2,200 people in British Columbia have died from a suspected illicit drug overdose it is clear that more joint operation work like this must be done to end the deaths,” said Manak.

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Victoria Buzz Staffhttps://www.victoriabuzz.com
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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