Drug-trafficking operation targets young, new drivers, Abbotsford police warn
3 teenagers were arrested earlier this week and face charges of trafficking
Police in Abbotsford, B.C., are cracking down on a street-level drug trafficking operation that's recruiting young drivers.
Lured by a share of profits, new drivers are using vehicles registered to their parents to act as drivers for dealers, according to the Abbotsford Police Department.
"We are currently seeing a trend in Abbotsford evolving around the recruitment of youth into gangs, and more specifically new drivers," said Sgt. Maitland Smith with the APD's Gang Crime Unit.
Earlier this week, three men from the Fraser Valley city — two 18-year-olds and a 19-year-old — were arrested and are facing charges of trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Police seized roughly $1,500, individually pre-packaged doses of fentanyl and crack cocaine, cellphones that were being used to conduct the drug deals and a 2016 Jeep Wrangler used to deliver the drugs from the three men.
Smith said simply acting as a driver for a drug dealer is cause for arrest, and emphasized the repercussions of trafficking.
"If you are caught driving drug dealers around, you will be charged with trafficking a controlled substance regardless of whether you touch the drugs or not," Smith said.
"If our investigation determines that the vehicle you are driving is an instrument used to facilitate the offence, it can be seized … regardless of whether you or your parents are the registered owners."
Alison Gutrath, co-ordinator for the youth anti-gang program In It Together, says it's something she's heard youth talk about.
"The challenge with that is a youth with an N drivers licence may not realize the consequences involved. It might not be their vehicle. It could be their parents' vehicle. That's putting repercussions on the vehicle as well as the drivers' licence."
Under B.C.'s graduated drivers licensing scheme, an N driver, or novice driver, is the next step after obtaining a learner's license. Novice drivers must display an N placard on the rear of their car and face other driving restrictions for two years.
Even worse, she says, is the possibility young people working for gangs are putting their lives at risk.
"It's very alarming," Gutrath said.
"We don't want to see people being killed. We don't want to see young people being the victims of gang violence."