Vancouver police have seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in drugs and a Downtown Eastside property in a bust of suspected drug dealers who were allegedly preying on the area's marginalized residents.
Dennis George Knibbs, 38, Randolph St. Ertis Aubrin Brown, 36, Mark Sean Chung, 33, and Shawn Anthony Brown, 41, have all been charged with numerous counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Police believe the four men are also responsible for numerous head-shaving incidents, used to intimidate marginalized residents into selling drugs. Although police are not aware of the exact number of victims, they said the suspected dealers had an extensive network.
"These were people who were preyed upon by these drug dealers, this was a violent group of drug dealers that were resorting to extreme measures to enforce drug debts and encourage people to sell drugs for them," said Sgt. Randy Fincham.
All four men are known to police, and have a history of selling drugs in Vancouver and elsewhere.
"Because of their significant background as far as drug dealing and intimidation, police were fairly quick to act on and follow through on that information," said Fincham.
The arrests came after a year-long joint investigation into a Downtown Eastside drug den, undertaken as part of Project Twizzler, a joint operation by the Vancouver Police Department and B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office.
Project Twizzler was set up in 2011 specifically to investigate into suspected drug dealers thought to be intimidating marginalized people.
Drugs, cars, property seized
The investigation included search warrants being executed throughout the city, including two known drug dens in the DTES.
As a result of these searches, police recovered over $50,000 in cash, 1.66 kilograms of cocaine, 688.51 grams of heroin, 335.75 grams of marijuana, 232.50 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 70 oxycodone pills, weapons including bear spray, machetes, swords, knives and a collapsible baton.
The drugs had an estimated street value of over $300,000.00.
The bust also seized notorious single room occupancy property The Backpackers Inn. This property has now been sold for $850,000 and under B.C. Civil Forfeiture Law, proceeds are going towards fighting crime in the province
Fincham said police have reason to believe the building's owners and managers were implicit and involved, although they have not been charged with anything at this point.
Police are also seeking the forfeiture of six high-end vehicles and another apartment building, all believed to have been used for or be the proceeds of unlawful activity.
The investigation into the second building is ongoing.