A member of the Comox Valley RCMP collects evidence in a west Courtenay alley following shots fired earlier this month. It was one of two shooting incidents that served as a catalyst for a special unit deployment. Photo by Erin Haluschak

RCMP deploys special unit in Comox Valley to combat organized crime

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit spends four days targeting organized crime in Courtenay

The Comox Valley RCMP called in some reinforcements over the weekend.

After two shootings just a day apart, members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) were deployed in the Comox Valley.

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells, who had a meeting with members of the local detachment following the shootings, said he was aware of the plans to bring in the special unit.

“I did indeed know about it,” said Wells. “When I met with the RCMP after the shootings they informed me that this is what they planned on doing, and to keep quiet on it because they didn’t want anyone to be aware of what was happening.

“The fact that we got the crack team of B.C. coming in to … assist the local RCMP, I think that’s amazing. It’s awesome teamwork, very targeted, and can be very effective in terms of trying to turn things around.”

According to a press release issued by the Comox Valley RCMP, the purpose of UGET is to mitigate, disrupt, and suppress any further violence. The police officers conduct active and high visibility enforcement in the community, including on those individuals or groups that may be posing the greatest risk to public safety due to their involvement in gang or organized crime activity.

“One of the integral components of the overall CFSEU-BC enforcement strategy are the Uniform Gang Enforcement Teams (UGET),” says Sgt. Brenda Winpenny, CFSEU-BC media relations officer.

“UGET represents the overt, tactical and specialized uniform presence of CFSEU-BC, which will directly interact with individuals involved in organized criminal activity to help our agency deliver on our mandate. Providing UGET support to Comox Valley is a positive for the community and law enforcement.”

Over four days in the Comox Valley, UGET members checked numerous cars and people, almost all of them with associations to the street-level drug trade. The team seized drugs, cell phones, a machete, knives, three replica firearms, a smoke grenade, and one rifle.

“The attendance of these additional police officers was noticed by the general public and by those involved in criminal activity,” said Staff Sgt. Glen Breckon, Comox Valley RCMP Major Crime Unit. “We are sending a strong message that violence will not be tolerated in this community.”

Wells said the while the weekend blitz was effective, the battle against organized crime in the Comox Valley is an ongoing effort.

“Right after the election, before I was even sworn in, we had a meeting to talk about some of the major issues in town, and this [organized crime] was one of them,” said Wells. “One of the other things that they have started to do is the community policing, where they are walking around, and have the cycling RCMP officers, and are able to get into the nooks and crannies of the city that otherwise would kind of be left unto themselves.

“What I said before, and I will reiterate, we really want people to know that if they see or hear anything suspicious that they let the RCMP know about it. Even if they can’t respond right away, it can be put into their ‘hot list’ of places so they can keep the pressure on. I think that is really the key going forward. We want to keep applying that pressure so that people know this type of anti-social behavior will not be tolerated in our community.”

Comox Valley RCMP media relations spokesperson, Const. Monika Terragni, said the investigations are ongoing.

“There were more than five arrests made, several investigations ongoing and unknown charges at this time.”



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

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