Long-term drug probe by Coquitlam RCMP leads to large seizure; police recommend charges for 13 suspects

Fifty-two kilograms of methamphetamine was seized as officers carried out the search warrants. Patrick Penner photo.

Coquitlam RCMP participated in a series of successful drug raids at the end of January, which led to the seizure of more than 85 kilograms of illicit drugs and pending charges on 13 suspects.

The confiscated substances were displayed along four long tables at the Coquitlam detachment on Thursday, as Cpl. Alexa Hodgins and Insp. Todd Balaban announced the results of an 18-month investigation.

“Every time we do a seizure of this nature, it makes a significant impact to both the organized crime groups as well as making it safe for people,” Balaban said.

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Coquitlam RCMP’s drug trafficking unit initiated a project, dubbed E-Nevermind, targeting several known drug dealers working within the Tri-Cities.

Seven search warrants were carried out on four locations in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, as well as Ridge Meadows on Jan. 25, 2023, with the RCMP’s Lower Mainland Integrated Emergency Response Team, along with Ridge Meadows RCMP, called in to assist.

The drugs were seized from three of those locations, Balaban said.

While the drugs are still being processed, Hodgins said investigators suspect they’ve seized three kilograms of cocaine, 52 kilograms of methamphetamine, 426 grams of MDMA, 250 grams of ketamine, 1.5 kilograms of dry psilocybin, 30 kilograms of psilocybin edibles, one kilogram of fentanyl, 1.3 grams of heroin, and 73 grams of suspected W-18.

Balaban said W-18 is a drug developed in the 1980s, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

“It’s not something regularly seen in the Lower Mainland,” he said. “So it is concerning for us.”

The seized drugs have a wholesale value of $1.3 million, and a retail value of over $3 million, according to Balaban.

Two replica handguns and $145,000 in cash were also seized.

Insp. Todd Balaban
Insp. Todd Balaban announced the results of the successful 18-month investigation on Feb. 16. Patrick Penner photo

Five suspects, ranging between 20 and 46-years-old, were arrested during the execution of the search warrants. Police are recommending charges against an additional eight suspects.

The suspects have been released as charges await approval by BC Prosecution Services.

Balaban said the seizures would have a significant impact.

When asked how they measure that impact, Balaban said they follow the quarterly statistics released by the BC Coroners Service.

Coquitlam had 33 toxic drug deaths in 2022, its worst year on record.

Balaban said this is just one aspect of police work related to illicit drug use, and they continue to work within communities and their external partners on other facets.

We’re really focused on people that are importing and trafficking the drugs,” he said, adding the seized drugs are packaged, and not meant for personal use.

A connection to organized crime group operating in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Ridge Meadows and Burnaby was mentioned, but Balaban did not name which group specifically.

Patrick Penner photo.
Patrick Penner photo

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