Metro Vancouver — It was with “a joyful heart” that Surrey’s mayor joined the officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP on Monday to announce that police had made more headway in the fight against street-level gun violence in the city.
“Today is a day to say we’ve made another round of significant progress with these most recent arrests,” Linda Hepner told reporters.
On Friday, investigators arrested six males linked to a conflict over drug turf involving low-level members of two groups of dial-a-dopers.
Police released the names and photos of four men who have been arrested and charged. Baltej Singh Gill, 18, of Surrey, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit the indictable offence of recklessly discharging a firearm. Gill was previously arrested in connection with an unrelated incident and charged with four firearms offences. Himmat Singh Virk, 18, of Surrey, is charged with two counts of conspiracy. Randeep Singh Johal, 18, of Surrey, is charged with one count of conspiracy. Manpreet Michael Johal, 24, of Delta, is charged with two counts of conspiracy.
Also charged is a 16-year-old young offender, who cannot be named because he was under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offences. The Surrey youth is charged with four firearms-related offences. A sixth man — a 24-year-old from Surrey — has been arrested but has not yet been charged. His name was not released.
Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy, who is also the acting officer in charge of Surrey RCMP, said the men were arrested after they were “strategically targeted” by police.
Investigators received information that individuals had plans to commit a drive-by shooting. Surrey RCMP teamed up with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit and Lower Mainland emergency response team to investigate and conduct the arrests.
“These arrests and charges stem from an ongoing investigation — a series of ongoing investigations that flow directly from shots fired complaints and incidents that have played out on our streets over the past five months,” Fordy said.
Fordy told reporters that he’s confident that there will be more announcements about arrests related to the conflict the coming months.
Public safety is a priority, Fordy said, and he believes these arrests have prevented further violence from playing out on Surrey streets, where there have been a total of 51 shootings — both related and unrelated to the conflict — since the beginning of 2016.
He said that since March, there have been 30 arrests related to the conflict. Fifteen firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been seized. He could not say how many charges have been laid against those individuals. Their cases are currently before the courts.
Hepner said the next step is for the courts to deal appropriately with those who are convicted of gun-related crimes in Surrey. She said she has spoken to federal and provincial politicians on the subject.
“I think that what is happening now on our streets is so unacceptable that when these folks get before the courts I hope the courts recognize the severity of a crime utilizing a gun on city streets and come down with a full — with some very significant acknowledgment in the punishment phase of this should all of those who are currently before the courts be found guilty,” she said.
Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk, who is also a former police officer, said he thinks all people in society generally want to see the toughest possible sentence imposed.
“I expect the full weight of the law to come down upon these individuals,” he said.