34 people charged in 'major blow' to gangs across Lower Mainland, police say

Police in B.C.'s Lower Mainland claim a major gang investigation is one of the most successful in the province's history with 34 people facing charges for 201 offences, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, cars, weapons and drugs seized.

A fortune in cash, hot cars and flashy jewelry also seized in 18-month operation

Police put several pieces of scorpion-themed artwork on display, claiming the Red Scorpion gang suffered a blow as a result of their 18-month investigation into Lower Mainland gangs. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Police in B.C.'s Lower Mainland claim a major gang investigation is one of the most successful in the province's history, with 34 people facing charges for 201 alleged offences and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, artwork, cars, weapons and drugs seized.

'Task Force Tourniquet' was an 18-month operation police are calling a 'major blow' to gangs in the region.

At a press conference on Friday, police put the seized items on display including: $833,000 in cash, jewelry worth $800,000, scorpion-themed artwork and photos of more than 100 weapons and $350,000 worth of vehicles.

Officials say the Kang crime group— which is closely aligned with the Red Scorpion Gang including Jamie Bacon and Kyle Latimer — was in conflict with several other gangs during the investigation. With some leaders now arrested, they predict violent activity should decrease.

VPD Superintendent Mike Porteous is flanked by CFSEU Acting Chief Officer Brian Gately (left) and VPD Sgt. Jason Robillard during a press conference on Friday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"There's no question this investigation and taking out the Kangs, and the Red Scorpions through Kyle Latimer is going to leave a void. But I think we have pretty good understanding of the competing groups that are operating in the province here," said Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. ​Acting Chief Officer Brian Gately

The task force, led by the Vancouver Police Department, included investigators from the CFSEU, RCMP detachments in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, North Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey, along with police departments from Abbotsford, Delta, New Westminster, Port Moody and West Vancouver.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team also played a role.

"We've conducted several interdictions where people were on their way to kill people, and we will be charging them with that," said VPD Superintendent Mike Porteous, who declined say how much the massive operation cost. 

Police seized about $800,000 worth of jewelry in the operation, including these Rolex watches. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"This is expensive, there are a lot of resources. We called together — at its peak — some 45 full-time investigators from across the region and the price of policing is not cheap. However, it's difficult to put a price on human life and we saved several lives and we'll continue to do so," said Porteous.

The major operation led to the seizure of more than $800,000 in cash. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

There were 120 firearms on the list of seized items, and police say nearly 10 of the 50 kg of drugs seized was fentanyl — the rest being cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. There was an image of an explosive device made out of a pressure cooker, but police wouldn't describe its intended use.

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Rafferty Baker

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker