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Police arrest 8 from B.C. based ‘organized crime group’

Significant amount of counterfeit pills, firearms, cash seized
The investigation resulted in seizures of drugs, weapons, precursor drugs, and ammunition. (BC RCMP)

Eight members of a B.C.-based crime group have been charged with multiple drug and weapons offences, BC RCMP announced Friday (Feb. 23). Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called it a ‘major, major take-down” that has removed a “phenomenal” amount of chemicals to make drugs, and firearms, from the streets.

He praised the inter-jurisdictional police work done federally and provincially, and with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the Abbotsford Police Department.

“Just the amount of material that they took down in this bust is quite something phenomenal,” Farnworth told the Now-Leader. “I think there was what, 168 kilos of raw chemicals, precursors to make pills and get stuff off the street it’s pretty significant, the firearms and 1,500 rounds of ammunition, it’s a pretty big bust. It indicates just what’s behind a lot of the gang action that we see.”

The arrests are the result of an investigation led by the BC RCMP Federal Policing program.

BC-RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC), and Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) investigators conducted a series of raids across the Lower Mainland on Wednesday (Feb. 21) and Friday (Feb. 23).

The main suspects of the investigation were arrested: Richard Sen, Jagdeep Singh Cheema, Kevin Moebes, Michael David Rast and Michael Johal. Johal has also been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection to the 2023 homicide of Gagandeep Sandhu.

READ MORE: Suspect charged in relation to B.C. gang-related killing of Abbotsford man

“I think what this does is it sends a strong message to the public that police forces of all stripes, whether it’s RCMP, municipal forces, are working together to deal not only with the gang violence but the drug dealers who are fuelling a lot of it,” Farnworth said. “This is a significant bust, and so they should have confidence that police are on it.”

It became apparent during the early stages of the investigation that many members of this criminal network were known gang members involved in the ongoing gang conflict in BC and beyond, police said.

This case gives the public a glimpse into the complexity and inter-connectedness of organized crime groups, BC RCMP Federal Serious & Organized Crime Major Projects’ acting Supt. Jillian Wellard said.

“They also highlight the role of organized crime in fueling the ongoing toxic drug crisis in BC, and the dangers of counterfeit medication laced with potentially lethal carfentanil, that seem indistinguishable from genuine pharmaceuticals.” Wellard said.

The investigation resulted “resulted in significant seizures of numerous types of counterfeit pharmaceutical pills, multiple firearms, cash, electronic devices, large quantities of precursor chemicals, and multi-kilograms of other illicit substances,” reads an RCMP press release issued Friday (Feb. 23).

The investigation also uncovered a “sophisticated pill pressing operation” at a South Surrey home, police say.

There was “evidence of large-scale polydrug production activities that involved the mixing of fentanyl and its analogues, into counterfeit pharmaceutical pills.”

An analysis of the pills revealed most of the pressed pills contained the powerful synthetic opioid carfentanil, which is normally used as a tranquilizer for large animals like elephants.

“Carfentanil has 100 times the toxicity of Fentanyl and 10,000 times that of morphine. Due to its lethal level of potency, there is virtually no way, even in a controlled laboratory setting, to safely cut and dilute Carfentanil for use in the illicit drug trade.” reads the release.

Over 350,00 counterfeit polydrug pills were seized, 4 illegal firearms, over 1,500 rounds of ammunition and large amounts of chemicals and raw material were seized that were prepared for mixing and pill pressing.

“This raw material could have produced an additional 185,000 fentanyl containing polydrug pills, 28,000 methamphetamine containing pills, and 258,000 MDMA containing pills,” the release states.

READ ALSO: 3 men from Abbotsford and Surrey charged with gang murder plot