Police discovered more than $1 million in cash in a backyard and seized enough date rape drug to dose every student at the University of Victoria.
They are among the more startling pieces of evidence produced at a press conference yesterday in Sidney detailing a year-long investigation that culminated in four people being arrested.
Methamphetamine, cocaine, GHB — the date rape drug — and anabolic steroids were among the drugs seized along with pill presses in a case that involved six police detachments and stretched from Saanich to Shawnigan Lake.
The investigation into drug trafficking and production on the Saanich Peninsula began in December of 2015 when Sidney North Saanich RCMP received information from a confidential informant who mentioned a clandestine laboratory potentially operating in the 1100 block of Quatsino Drive in North Saanich.
“Given the large scale of this investigation and multi-jurisdictional nature, we ended up asking for the assistance of Central Saanich police and Saanich Police,” said RCMP operations support NCO Erin Fraser.
Fraser said Sidney North Saanich RCMP investigators determined partway through the investigation that the laboratory had moved to Shawnigan Lake.
“Evidence was subsequently gathered over a long period of time and that led to the execution of three separate search warrants,” said Fraser.
The first search was executed in May 2016 in the 4300 block of Torrington Place in Saanich, where $1.1 million in cash was found hidden in cement blocks in the backyard, according to Cpl. Haydn Barrow with Sidney North Saanich RCMP. Also uncovered was a quantity of drugs.
“As a result of this search 49-year-old Saanich resident Alexander Djafar-Zade has been arrested and charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking GHB, cocaine and MDMA. He’s also been charged with possession of proceeds of crime.”
The second search warrant lead police to the 2300 block of Ravenhill Road in Shawnigan Lake. It was there police uncovered the operational laboratory. They seized varying quantities of materials for making anabolic steroids, GHB and pharmaceuticals. Large quantities of unfinished products, lab equipment and two pill presses were also seized.
Meagan Blake and Christopher Hyland, each 26, have since been charged with nine counts of production of controlled substance, 13 counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one count of transportation of class A precursor.
“They have appeared in provincial court and have been released from custody on a recognizance with sureties and a curfew,” said Fraser.
Saanich resident, 26-year-old James Thomas Rempel has also been charged with one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking GHB and one count of transporting a class A precursor. He has also made his first appearance and was released from custody on recognizance.
In August of 2016, police executed the third search warrant, again in the 4300 block of Torrington place in Saanich where they located two kilograms of cocaine. As a result of that search, Djafar-Zade was charged with two additional counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
He has appeared in provincial court where he remains in custody.
At the press conference Tuesday, the drugs and cash were on display, with the two pill presses on the counter. Also on display was a leather motorcycle vest that read Deadratz Victoria.
Jereme Leslie, sergeant with Saanich Police said the place on Torrington was within an approximately two-kilometre radius of an elementary school, middle school, two high schools and the University of Victoria, which presented a large concern.
“Through this investigation from my understanding is there’s enough date rape drug to be supplied to every single student at the University of Victoria so obviously it’s very concerning for not just Saanich but the whole entire region,” he said.
Fraser said police can assume there are different tiers of individuals involved in these sorts of activities, She said police are still investigating as far as who they are and how far up the chain they go.
Others involved in the investigation besides Sidney/North Saanich, Central Saanich and Saanich were members of the Island District General Investigation Section, West Shore RCMP and Shawnigan Lake RCMP.