Vancouver Police say a 51-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a pop-up drug store in the Downtown Eastside.
The man was arrested for drug trafficking with an illegal dispensary that began operating out of a trailer parked near Main and Cordova streets Wednesday (May 3), according to a VPD release Thursday. It adds the department’s organized crime section started an investigation, collecting evidence after the man started selling cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and heroin.
The man has been released from custody pending his next court appearance, and he’s “forbidden from returning to the Downtown Eastside.” Police add investigators have seized two vehicles, body armour and Canadian currency as part of the ongoing investigation.
“We support measures aimed at improving public safety for people who use drugs, including harm reduction services and decriminalization,” said Const. Tania Visintin. “However, we remain committed in our position that drug trafficking will continue to be the subject of enforcement.”
Beginning Jan. 31, 2023, a federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act decriminalized possession of small amounts of illicit drugs in B.C. The pilot project is set to continue to Jan. 31, 2026.
People are allowed to carry up to a total of 2.5 grams of opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
B.C. was granted the exemption in 2022 for 2.5 grams of personal possession – two grams less than initially requested. Officials said the hope is it is intended to prevent toxic drug poisonings.
Meantime, last month marked the seventh anniversary of the toxic drug crisis in B.C., which killed more than 2,300 people in the province in 2022.
A parade through the Downtown Eastside on April 14 called for a regulated and safe supply to hopefully prevent any more deaths.
“A 747 jet of people dies every three months. A bus of people dies once every week,” noted Eris Nyx, an organizer of the event.
As people marched through the streets, they cried out for safe drugs. There were also plans to hand out clean drugs – free of fentanyl – following the march.
“It’s really killing everybody and without a regulated supply, everyone just dies. The government isn’t doing anything to produce a regulated supply.”
– With files from Ashley Wadhwani-Smith, The Canadian Press