British Columbia

Undercover investigation in Victoria's Centennial Square leads to drug charges against 17 people

Seventeen people are facing drug trafficking charges after a four-day undercover investigation in a public square in Victoria, B.C.

Police say 4-day investigation was prompted by an increase in violent crime

Undercover police officers conducted an investigation in Centennial Square from Aug. 11 to 15. (Shutterstock)

Seventeen people are facing drug trafficking charges after a four-day undercover investigation in a public square in Victoria, B.C.

Victoria police say their sting was prompted by an increase in violent crime linked to the drug trade in the area around Centennial Square, including multiple assaults, two stabbings and the shooting of windows at city hall with a compressed air gun.

Undercover officers posed as drug buyers between Aug. 11 and 15, and allege they purchased substances including methamphetamine, cocaine, magic mushrooms and fentanyl.

Investigators allege that several tents in the square are being used for drug trafficking on a rotating basis, used for transactions on one day and then sleeping the next.

The officers working undercover say they received threats of violence during their time in the square, and at one point spoke with a man who was carrying a concealed metal club, which he said was necessary to protect himself.

To date, police have tracked down and arrested five of the accused, and warrants are out for the arrest of the remaining 12. The accused include 15 men and two women.

Those arrested so far include:

  • Jamaal Ali Johnson, 41, charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
  • Desaree Gloria-Lee Solley, 35, charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
  • Tomas Paul Podhora, 28, charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
  • Christopher John Ferland, 31, charged with trafficking a controlled substance.
  • Julian Michael Peterson, 23, charged with trafficking a controlled substance.

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