An undercover operation in downtown Victoria has led to 27 drug-trafficking charges and the arrest of seven prolific offenders who could see maximum jail time if convicted, police say.
Twenty-one people have been charged in the past few weeks in what Victoria police call Operation Snowflake.
The street-level drug busts are part of a winter action plan that also includes a crackdown on property crime, pedestrian traffic accidents and drinking and driving.
Police say they were responding to a noticeable increase in drug traffic around View and Douglas streets as well as the 800 and 900 blocks of Pandora Avenue.
“It’s important for us to get ahead of that because that type of traffic tends to bring violence with it,” said Dave Bown, Victoria police acting inspector.
One man arrested in the drug operation is associated with 319 incidents in the provincial police records database. The man has 46 convictions for various crimes, including three for drug trafficking, according to police.
“We want to be clear that we are after the predators,” Bown said. “We targeted those people who prey on the disenfranchised in that area.”
The drug busts were street-level transactions worth an estimated $20 to $60.
In addition to the undercover operation, beat, bike and traffic cops all increased their presence in both the downtown and in Esquimalt in recent weeks as part of the action plan, which will continue until the end of December.
“With the holiday shopping season upon us and the increase in downtown traffic, we wanted to come up with a multi-pronged approach to keep people safe,” Bown said.
Given several recent incidents of pedestrians being hit by vehicles in Victoria and Vancouver, VicPD added a new component to its winter action plan by having officers closely monitor foot and vehicle traffic.
Beat and bike cops looked for pedestrians ignoring rules of the road, while members of the traffic team on motorcycles targeted motorists who failed to yield at crosswalks.
No results have been reported yet, but Bown expects to go over the numbers at the end of the month to see if he can identify trends.
“All the attention brought on this lately really set alarm bells off for us,” Bown said. “We hope to do more public education on it as well as awareness.”
VicPD has also added officers to its annual Counter Attack program, which includes 15 nights of roadblocks targeting drunk drivers during the holiday season. The department will increase the number of officers on three of those nights, creating two roadblocks for the city instead of the usual one.
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