Victoria police say this weeks drug bust, which took in millions of dollars worth of cocaine, is the regions largest ever, the culmination of a three-month undercover investigation prompted by a shooting in the Beacon Hill park area in May.
Nearly 100 officers led by the departments street crime unit and joint task force, conducted pre-dawn raids of five locations in Saanich and the West Shore, seizing a total of 22.5 kilograms of cocaine, four high-powered handguns, two vehicles and $420,600 in cash. A stun gun, bear spray and body armour were also seized in the raids.
The cocaine, bricks the size of a hard-cover book displayed at a press conference Thursday morning, has a wholesale value of $1.25 million and a street-level value of $2.25 million, said police spokesman Sgt. Grant Hamilton (Pure cocaine is usually diluted cut with talcum power before it is sold on the street.)
That translates into between 600,000 and 900,000 uses of crack cocaine on the street, police Chief Jamie Graham said.
Eight people have been arrested - four men and four women - all of whom are known to police, and a Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Nanaimo resident, 41-year-old Nicholas Lucier.
Arrests have been made and there will be more, Graham said.
The major investigation followed a shooting that took place in the early morning hours of May 5, in Beacon Hill park, Hamilton said.
A man was shot in the knee but refused to cooperate with police. Hamilton would not say if the shooting was drug-related but the ensuing investigation snowballed and led to this weeks seizures.
There were no charges laid in that shooting and police would not say whether any of the people involved were arrested in the recent raids.
Hamilton said police did not release details at the time fearing it would jeopardize the investigation.
At one of the homes raided by officers, in the 3600-block of Roberlack in Colwood, a one-year-old child was found in the residence. Two men and a woman were arrested and Hamilton said the Ministry of Children and Family Development was immediately alerted.
A business in the Colwood Corners plaza, Tan-Envy, was raided and police seized documents.
In Langford, at a home in the 2600-block of Rainville Road, police found three handguns, two of which were loaded, one within arms reach of the suspect and one that was stolen from a home last week. Hamilton said stolen jewelry was also found and a man and a woman were arrested.
Arrests and seizures were also made at two homes in Saanich, in the 300-block of Burnside Road west and the 100-block of Regina Street.
The sophisticated drug operation, which saw cocaine being prepared across the region and then funneled into Victorias downtown, is linked to a criminal organization, Graham said, but he would not say which one.
The sprawling investigative team included the Victoria police street crime unit and joint task force, the regional crime unit, the RCMP's combined special forces enforcement unit, Saanich police, West Shore RCMP and two tactical teams. Six of the arrested are facing a slew of drug trafficking and weapons charges.