Crack cook house dismantled in James Bay

Four crack cooks arrested in two-month operation

  • Jul. 13, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Mike Russell

Mike Russell

Behind the walls of an apartment on sleepy Simcoe Street, a dirty business operated.

While seniors strolled by on the sidewalks out front, four people worked a crack-making cookhouse, according to Victoria police.

“These guys (were) supplying to mid-level drug dealers,” said Const. Mike Russell.

“They’d take that powder cocaine – that’s how it comes to B.C. here. It comes to a cook house and they convert it into something that can be smoked, rock or crack. Once they do that, it’s sold to (dealers).”

For two months, Victoria police officers watched the apartment and gathered intelligence.

Last Thursday (July 7), armed with search warrants, they entered the apartment and found evidence of a cook house: measuring cups, scales and baking powder. Also inside were two large rocks of crack, weighing about 60 grams each, plus a more than a half-kilogram of powder cocaine, and a small amount of marijuana.

Altogether, the drugs are estimated to be worth $30,000 on the street – and about double that amount when broken up and sold to consumers.

At the apartment, a 37-year-old man from Victoria and a 37-year-old Langford woman were arrested.

“This is a large amount of drugs, certainly not the largest we’ve seen, but it’s going to make a dent in the local market,” said Russell.

The quiet area of James Bay was never at risk – the cooks likely did most of their transactions away from the property, and cooking crack is benign.

Basically, when powder cocaine is mixed with baking soda and microwaved, it becomes crack.

As part of their investigation, police officers also had a search warrant on a Langford house.

VicPD officers worked with RCMP to raid that house, although police refused to disclose the location to protect the identity of the suspects until charges have been approved.

Inside the house, investigators discovered $25,000 in cash – the house acted as a store room for the cook-and-sell operation. Three vehicles found at that address were seized and could be transferred to B.C. Civil Forfeiture where they would be auctioned as revenue for the province.

Two other suspects were arrested in a “high-risk takedown” on the Royal Oak offramp to the Pat Bay Highway.

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team officers identified a vehicle believed to be part of the cook operation and pulled it over. They arrested a 27-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, both from Langford.

Each of the suspects could be charged with possession of drugs and possession for the purpose of trafficking. They have all been released on promises to appear in court.

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On crack and gold

Crack sells for about the same price as gold.

Both commodities trade at about $1,500 per ounce.

“It’s quite remarkable,” said Sgt. Conor King, VicPD’s drug expert with its focused enforcement team.

He added the price of both have both steadily risen in recent years.

The price of cocaine in powder or crack form depends on supply and demand, as well as conditions in supply countries, such as some South American regions and Mexico. The current war on drugs in that country is toying with prices.

Heroin is one of the most expensive drugs on the market, at closer to $3,000 per ounce. Methamphetamines, which are produced in B.C., sell for considerably less.