A quiet, upscale neighbourhood in Nanaimo was the scene of a dramatic weekend drug bust involving men police say have ties to the Red Scorpions gang.
Nanaimo RCMP arrested five men, seized $66,000 in cash and 12 ounces of drugs during a handful of arrests made in the area on Sunday afternoon.
Police arrested the men by making sudden, targeted vehicle stops. Searches of the cars netted $60,000 and drugs including 10 ounces of crack cocaine and two ounces of heroin.
The weeks-long investigation targeted "mid-level drug dealers" in Nanaimo. In addition to the arrests, a search of a home on the 400-block of Nottingham Drive netted $6,000 and 1.5 ounces of methamphetamine.
"No further arrests are expected," said spokesman Const. Gary O'Brien. "Our investigators believe these arrests and seizure of cash and drugs will have a significant impact on the sale and distribution of drugs in the Nanaimo area."
The five men, aged 21 to 27, were released on promises to appear. Police have recommended a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking for each individual.
Dr. Keith Phillips has called the neighbourhood for 17 years. During an "interesting" Sunday afternoon spent cleaning the roof of his trailer, police made two take-downs directly in front of his home.
"That's the common story you hear, right. They (gangs) find a place that nobody's going to notice and use that as a centre," he said. "It makes me anxious. I wonder how many more there are."
Phillips was cleaning his trailer when he noticed a red Toyota SUV become suddenly boxed in by four police cruisers in front of his driveway.
"The driver was subdued, then was pulled into an unmarked police car across the street," said Phillips.
Roughly 30 minutes later, the situation had quieted down. Phillips was working on the roof of his trailer and became aware of several vehicles "lurking" in the area.
"The RCMP unmarked cars were moving around. We sent (our friends) home, as they had been visiting," he said. "There was still an air of expectation around Nottingham Drive."
Soon after, a station wagon came driving up the street. Again, the vehicle was boxed in by police.
A cop with a "large and meanlooking handgun" ran up to the drivers' door and pointed the weapon at him.
The occupant was placed under arrest without resistance.
Sharon Hiles, who lives in close proximity to the house police searched that afternoon, described the scene as a large operation that temporarily shattered the quiet of the neighbourhood.
She described the target home on Nottingham Drive as inconspicuous and "very quiet." "I would have noticed if they drove a fairly beat up van or something like that," she said. "It was fairly nice, with new cars.
"We had no idea this was going on here, that they were being watched," she said. "The renters before them were fine."
The men were scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 14.
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