Two Lower Mainland residents are facing a range of drug charges after a police search of a cargo ship and a Richmond apartment last year, police announced on Tuesday.
The RCMP were first alerted to the pending shipment in February 2016, after US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers at the US Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport discovered three roller suitcases inside a refrigerated container from Brazil, that was in transit to the Port of Vancouver.
While inspecting the suitcases, the CBP officers found 110 packages containing more than 30 kg of a white powdery substance which tested positive for cocaine.
CBP quickly notified Los Angeles-based special agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which oversees the multi-agency Los Angeles/Long Beach Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST).
The BEST, in close coordination with HSI’s attaché office in Vancouver, then opened a formal probe and began collaborating closely with Canadian authorities to obtain further evidence about the circumstances surrounding the shipment and identify possible suspects.
“We believe they were ‘tailgating,'” said RCMP spokesperson Cal Chrustie of the drug traffickers. “That’s when drug traffickers piggyback a legitimate shipment of goods.”
Two people were arrested in connection with the case and Richmond RCMP obtained a warrant to search a Richmond apartment as well. Inside the apartment, police seized numerous exhibits, including 40,000 Fentanyl pills and a 1 kg brick of methamphetamine.
The seizures, Chrustie said, would “definitely have impacted the transnational organized crime networks involved.”
Even more importantly, he said “we believe that preventing these drugs from reaching our communities has undoubtedly saved countless lives.”
Now, Richmond resident Yan Chau Lam (aka Andrew Lam), 48, and Vancouver resident Gertrude Cheong (aka Sok Wai Cheong) have both been arrested and charged.
Lam faces one count of of conspiring to import a controlled substance, contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, one count of conspiring to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, and three counts of unlawfully possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Cheong faces one count of conspiring to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Both Lam and Cheong have been released on bail, and are scheduled to be back in court in Richmond, BC, on October 31.