Four known gang associates, as well as a significant amount of firearms and drugs, including fentanyl, have been taken off the streets following a five-month-long investigation by Vancouver police.
The department initiated Project Tariff in March to investigate the activities of the Heer/Dhillon/Samra crime group. VPD Superintendent Mike Porteous said the it’s believed to be involved in conflicts with various other crime groups and gangs in the region. The investigation and subsequent seizures took place in Richmond, Vancouver and Surrey.
“We launched Project Tariff in response to increased reports of incidents of shots fired in Vancouver and outlying areas and ongoing crime related to gang activity,” Porteous said Wednesday morning. “Over the course of the investigation, we obtained substantial evidence of trafficking of firearms, fentanyl and other illicit opioids by this group.”
As a result of the investigation, officers seized 27 grams (one ounce) of heroin mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil, about one kilogram of heroin mixed with methylfentanyl, and another kilogram of fentanyl.
Porteous said in the grand scheme of things, this was a large operation.
“This is a significant seizure. It’s actually hard to quantify the amount of street-level value of this level of fentanyl.”
For example, he said, in Vancouver heroin is valued at about $200 a gram but a usual dosage is about one-tenth of a gram, which sells for $20. Fentanyl is much stronger and as little as one-1,000th of a milligram could be lethal.
“So we’re talking a very, very expensive seizure here. It’s a large-scale seizure as far as fentanyl goes and it’s a significant seizure relative to mitigating the opioid crisis.”
Officers also seized eight firearms, including two semi-automatic rifles, a pump-action shotgun, a semi-automatic assault rifle and a sawed-off shotgun, which is a prohibited weapon.
Four men were arrested and are facing several drug and firearm-related charges.
Jagraj Mushki Nijjar, 23, Jaskaran Singh Heer, 22, and Harjot Singh Samra, 21, all of Vancouver were arrested and are facing various charges including possession of a non-restricted firearm, possession of a loaded restricted firearm and possession of a firearm while prohibited. Richmond resident Gary Gurpreet Dhillon, 25, was also arrested and is charged with possession of proceeds of crime and drug trafficking.
Porteous said the spat of shootings in various areas in the region could be linked to the firearms seized.
“These are very serious weapons. They are still being analysed at length and we’re working with our partner agencies as to links to various shootings, but it stands to reason that various shootings across the region could be related to these people,” Porteous said. “In fact, the original impetus for this project was some shots being fired while police were surrounding a house in South East Vancouver in March of this year.”