Seventeen people face 18 charges following an undercover drug trafficking investigation in Centennial Square. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Seventeen people face 18 charges following an undercover drug trafficking investigation in Centennial Square. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Undercover Victoria drug trafficking investigation leaves 17 people facing 18 charges

Five people arrested, 12 still wanted on warrants

Seventeen people are facing charges after an undercover drug trafficking investigation led by the Victoria Police Department.

On Wednesday (Aug. 26), the department announced the outcome of an undercover operation in Centennial Square, initiated in response to an increase in violent crimes including air gun shootings, assaults and stabbings – incidents linked to the drug trade, according to VicPD.

From Aug. 11 to 15, police posed undercover as customers and purchased drugs, including meth, cocaine, psilocybin and fentanyl, from several tents in Centennial Square. Police said tents were used for drug trafficking on a rotating basis – with a given tent used for drug transactions one day and sleeping the next.

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Police also noticed one suspect would leave their residence, drive to Centennial Square and park a block away before heading to a tent in the square to conduct drug trafficking.

The undercover officers said they experienced threats of violence while working in the square.

Warrants for drug trafficking charges were issued to 17 accused people in the investigation. So far five have been arrested and 12 are wanted on warrants. An additional person is wanted for a robbery charge related to the investigation.

The five people arrested and charged with trafficking a controlled substance include Jamaal Ali Johnson, 41; Desaree Gloria-Lee Solley, 35; Tomas Paul Podhora, 28; Christopher John Ferland, 31; and Julian Michael Peterson, 23.

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