Following two gangland slayings in Kamloops last month, the province’s Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) spent four days conducting road checks and seizing multiple weapons, drugs and cash related to organized crime.
According to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C., its gang unit was sent to Kamloops in order to suppress any further violence following the two fatal gang-related shootings on Jan. 24.
Kamloops RCMP responded to a pair of reported shootings at separate locations in Kamloops.
Officers arrived to the Super 8 Motel in Valleyview at about 6 a.m. where they found 31-year-old Cody Mathieu of Kamloops in the parking lot with apparent gunshot wounds. Nearly two hours later, at about 8:25 a.m., police responded to the parking lot of the Comfort Inn and Suites just off Rogers Way where 41-year-old Rex Gill of Penticton was found shot. Both men died at hospital from their injuries.
Later that day a white vehicle matching a description given by witnesses at the Comfort Inn was found burning in Barnhartvale.
Mathieu was previously known to police, but Gill was not. Investigators have not said whether they are aware of any connection between the two victims, but believe the shootings were targeted attacks related to organized crime.
UGET, which is based out of the Lower Mainland, stopped 78 vehicles and checked 132 people believed to be connected to the street-level drug trade over the course of the week in Kamloops.
Officers seized four sets of brass knuckles, two spring-loaded knives, three machetes, eight axes, one butterfly knife, nine fixed-bladed knives, one can of pepper spray, four hatchets, nine folding knives, one magazine for a .22 caliber firearm, one box of .22 caliber ammunition, one empty pistol holster and one lock-picking kit.
They also confiscated $40,000 they believe was tied to the drug trade, as well as small amounts of cocaine, crystal meth and fentanyl.
One of the images police shared shows an axe labelled "The Goof Killer" alongside bear spray containing instructions written in black marker explaining how to use it on a “goof.”
"While many of these items may be everyday tools for the general public, for individuals involved in criminal activity, they can represent dangerous weapons used to intimidate or assault others or to protect illegal commodities and proceeds of crime," Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said in a statement. "Taking these potential weapons off the street and out of the hands of those involved in the drug trade was vital to the [Uniform Gang Enforcement Team’s] violence suppression efforts while in Kamloops."
Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton said UGET was brought in at the request of the Kamloops RCMP to help in mitigating any further violence from happening following the pair of gang-related homicides.
“As we’ve seen many, many times in communities all around the province, sometimes an incident like a homicide or an attempted homicide precipitates or the dominos fall to cause other violent incidents and we don’t want that to happen,” Houghton told KTW.
He said UGET has conducted this type of operation in Kamloops before, noting it involves liaising with the local RCMP, which provides names of people to target as they are known to be associated to organized crime and the drug trade.
Police arrested two people who had outstanding warrants, but more charges could potentially be forthcoming as investigations remain ongoing regarding some of the seized items, Houghton said.
“As of right now there, hasn’t been any other arrests or charges,” he said.
Kamloops RCMP vowed the public would see an increased police presence following the two murders.
More than 50 investigators are now working on the two homicides, according to the Kamloops RCMP.
Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said there is no update to provide the public at this time.