VicPD, CFSEU announce charges in $30M drug bust from 2020

VicPD, CFSEU announce charges in $30M drug bust from 2020
Victoria Police Department
This 2020 photo shows some of the drugs and other items seized in 'Project Juliet.'

A massive police operation in Victoria and the Lower Mainland that saw $30 million-worth of fentanyl, drugs, firearms and cash seized in 2020 has led to charges against three men.

The bust occurred as a result of a joint investigation between the Victoria Police Department and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit in June 2020.

Investigators identified a gang with ties to the Lower Mainland trafficking fentanyl in B.C.’s capital and conducted nine search warrants in four jurisdictions as part of “Project Juliet.”

Police seized 20 firearms, one kilogram of cocaine, over 12 kilograms of fentanyl, over four kilograms of meth, a kilogram of MDMA and over six kilograms of cutting agents, the street value of which was previously determined to be around $30 million, as well as $385,390 in cash. Three luxury vehicles were also seized.

The Victoria seizures involved a suite in a multi-unit residential building in the 500-block of Fisgard Avenue and a suite in a multi-unit building in the 700-block of Fairfield Road.

On Thursday, police announced charges against Victoria resident Brian James Balla, a 34-year-old man originally from Calgary, Vue Bao Nguyen, also 34 and from Surrey, and Brent William Van Buskirk, a 35-year-old man from Vancouver.

Balla faces eight trafficking-related charges, Nguyen faces 10 charges and Van Buskirk faces 13 charges including possession of a prohibited firearm without authorization and possession of a non-restricted firearm without a license.

Police say Van Buskirk was already on parole for a 2004 murder conviction and is now being held in custody pending a court date. Balla was taken into custody Wednesday and is awaiting a bail hearing, while Nguyen was arrested Thursday morning and will remain in custody pending a court hearing.

Victoria Polic Chief Del Manak said the operation has taken potentially deadly drugs off the streets at a time when they are killing more British Columbians than ever.

“In a year where  over 2,200 people in British Columbia have died from a suspected illicit drug overdose it is clear that more joint operation work like this must be done to end the deaths,” said Manak.


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