Police arrest nine in major drug bust

Well-off Kamloops clients spent $1,000 a month on cocaine

Nine people suspected in a major dial-a-dope operation in Kamloops are out on strict conditions awaiting charges in a police bust that RCMP say has gang connections.

Wiretaps, surveillance and undercover officers from other detachments were involved in the eight-month investigation, Insp. Yves Lacasse said Thursday.

Police laid out some of the take from the five search warrants they used in their arrests last week: 1.3 kilograms of cocaine, $142,000 in cash, body armour, a 9-mm Ruger handgun, a .30-06 rifle, a .22 rifle, a .300-calibre rifle, three sawed-off shotguns, a cutting agent, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a money-counting machine and a cocaine press.

They also confiscated three vehicles: a BMW SUV, a Toyota sedan and a Lexus sedan.

The suspected main supplier is from Kamloops, and there were links to gangs in the Lower Mainland, said Lacasse.

Project ENOCTURNAL started in February, and at its peak involved 21 officers whose investigation led to last week's arrests of eight men and one woman, between the ages of 20 and 40.

"This one was extremely sophisticated. They ran this like a business," he said, adding the operation had set shifts, accounting books and expense claims.

The buyers were mostly people with jobs, often with families, and some of them had habits that cost them $1,000 a month, he said.

RCMP are recommending charges to the Crown that include trafficking in a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, conspiracy to commit trafficking, possession of property or proceeds from offences and commission of offence for criminal organization.

"I am extremely proud of the work done by this detachment," said Lacasse, who has always taken a hard line on gangs.

"This operation effectively shut down a major drug supplier in Kamloops."

During the investigation, officers made 20 purchases of cocaine in amounts from one gram to three ounces.

"We've removed a lot of drugs from the streets," said Lacasse.

"The individuals in this operation were people we consider to be at the top in Kamloops."

Lacasse said the investigation involved thousands of hours of surveillance as well as monitored phone calls and text messages.

The dial-a-dope operation would usually involve the customers calling the dealer and meeting in an exchange location like a bar, restaurant or parking lot, he said.

The investigation is still not complete, so Lacasse couldn't say what the consequences might be for the drug customers.

"What will come out of that, I just don't know right now," he said.

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