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Large quantities of drugs, guns, cash seized in Richmond, Delta, Surrey

Raw material seized by RCMP could have produced almost half a million pills of illicit drugs.
Police raids resulted in the seizure of drugs and pill-pressing equipment.

A series of police raids in Richmond, Delta and Surrey have resulted in the seizure of large quantities of illicit drugs — including fentanyl, meth, benzodiazepines and carfentinal — as well as firearms, cash and precursor chemicals.

The raids on Wednesday and Friday this week also led to the arrest of eight suspects.

This multi-jurisdictional, transnational organized crime investigation was launched in September 2022 by the BC-RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) Major Projects Team, and it led to 11 search warrants being executed on March 1, 2023.

It also uncovered a sophisticated pill-pressing operation at one of the homes in South Surrey, with evidence of large-scale polydrug production activities that involved the mixing of fentanyl and its analogues, into counterfeit pharmaceutical pills.

Eight members of a B.C.-based criminal organization have been charged with numerous drug- and weapons-related offences as a result of an investigation by the BC RCMP Federal Policing program.

One of the suspects was also arrested by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) for his alleged involvement in a gang-related murder plot.

The analysis of the seized pills also revealed the alarming presence of carfentanil in most of the pressed pills, police said. Carfentanil is a powerful synthetic opioid used as a tranquilizing agent for large animals such as elephants.

Carfentanil has a hundred times the toxicity of fentanyl and 10,000 times that of morphine. Due to its lethal level of potency, there is virtually no way, even in a controlled laboratory setting, to safely cut and dilute carfentanil for use in the illicit drug trade, police explained.

Early in the investigation, police allege it became apparent that numerous members of this criminal network were known gang members involved in the gang conflict that has spread across B.C., and beyond.

Evidence uncovered also allegedly linked one of the suspects, Michael Manpreet Johal, to a murder plot, which expanded the FSOC investigation into a joint effort in support of IHIT.

As the FSOC investigation broadened in scope, it also allegedly connected the suspects to an ongoing, yet separate investigation into the activities of an overlapping organized crime network, that was being conducted by the Abbotsford Police Department.

The subjects of this investigation allegedly included overlapping members of the same criminal network, as well as rival gang members who were allegedly involved in similar offences.

The details of these multifaceted and intertwined investigations provide a glimpse into the complex nature, and interconnectedness of organized crime groups.

They also highlight the role of organized crime in fuelling the ongoing toxic drug crisis in B.C., and the dangers of counterfeit medication laced with potentially lethal carfentanil, that seem indistinguishable from genuine pharmaceuticals.

Half a million pills could have been created from seized drugs 

The seizures from all locations yielded a total of 356,000 counterfeit polydrug pills that included Adderall, Xanax, Percocet, OxyContin and Oxycodone.

The vast majority of the pills also contained carfentanil, and a mixture of methamphetamine, benzodiazepine, heroin and MDMA.

The seized quantities and makeup of each drug category were: 112,000 counterfeit OxyContin pills containing fentanyl, carfentanil, para-fluorofentanyl and heroin; 7,500 counterfeit Supeudol (Oxycodone) pills containing fentanyl, carfentanil and para-fluorofentanyl; 107,500 counterfeit Oxycocet (generic Percocet) pills containing fentanyl and carfentanil; 23,000 counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine; and 106,000 counterfeit Xanax pills containing benzodiazepines, MDMA and fentanyl.

In addition to the seized counterfeit pills, FSOC investigators discovered four illegal firearms, more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition and large quantities of precursor chemicals that seemed to have been prepared for mixing and pill pressing.

The seized precursor chemicals included 77 kilograms of powder containing fentanyl, 77 kilograms of powder containing benzodiazepines, 12 kilograms of powder containing methamphetamin and two kilograms of powder containing carfentanil.

This raw material could have produced an additional 185,000 fentanyl-containing polydrug pills, 28,000 methamphetamine-containing pills, and 258,000 MDMA-containing pills.

The multi-agency enforcement action spanned across Vancouver, North Vancouver, Delta, Richmond and Surrey.

The main suspects of this investigation are Michael Manpreet Johal, Richard Sen, Jagdeep Singh Cheema, Michael David Rast, and Kevin Moebes.

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