Anti-gang cops descend on Victoria

Mainland-based unit made arrests on Canada Day long weekend

In a serious case of wrong place, wrong time, a silver car drove past a group of uniformed gang police on a long weekend.

The squadron of officers, in town from the Lower Mainland on their yearly pit stop in Victoria, ran the car’s plates. The vehicle belonged to a “high-value individual,” said Sgt. Shinder Kirk.

Pulled over at Government and Johnson streets, the officers cuffed the driver. Inside the car, they found pressurized canisters, crystal meth and GHB.

“We located a quantity of narcotics within that vehicle,” said Kirk, the spokesperson for the CFSEU-Gang Task Force. “No charges have been forwarded yet.”

The task force, based out of the Vancouver area, is made up of four teams of officers from the RCMP and Lower Mainland municipal police departments.

The bulk of the unit’s work happens on the Lower Mainland, but the task force’s uniformed division hopped across the strait for four nights on the Island during the Canada Day long weekend. They spent Friday and Saturday nights in the capital.

“Given that it was a long weekend, these individuals gravitate to these communities (outisde of Vancouver) to socialize or (conduct business),” Kirk said of people involved in gang activity and organized crime.

“We have seen a gravitation to outlying communities. Unfortunately for them, they don’t realize we work really closely with other agencies. They were checked (by our officers) and were made fully aware it doesn’t matter where they go, they may end up running into our officers.”

Victoria Police Department’s officer in charge of the patrol division, Insp. Jamie Pearce, said Greater Victoria residents often aren’t aware that people with gang and organized crime connections often visit Victoria, live here or conduct illicit business in the capital.

The Red Scorpions, for example, are an organization that operate in the city.

“I think (people) need to be aware that this is a problem that affects all British Columbians and we have to take steps to ensure it doesn’t infiltrate our communities,” Pearce said.

He said that on Friday and Saturday nights, “we located some significant players in the Lower Mainland gangs that were over here.”

Arrests were made, Kirk added.

Greater Victoria police agencies regularly check out known gang members in the region. The gang task force’s presence helped bolster the idea that the Island is no place for criminals to hide, Kirk said.

“We also take up the responsibility to teach street level police officers some of the tactics that we found work in Metro Vancouver,” he said.

ecardone@vicnews.com