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No gang problem in Courtenay: Mayor

COURTENAY, B.C. – Courtenay is still a safe place to live.

This is what Mayor Bob Wells is saying after a recent RCMP gang enforcement crackdown in the city.

Over a four-day period in Courtenay, officers seized drugs, cellphones, a machete, knives, three replica guns, a smoke grenade, and one rifle.

READ MORE: Courtenay shootings lead to RCMP gang crackdown

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Wells said efforts are ongoing to keep organized crime out of the city.

“We really want to hammer home that we’re taking this very seriously, and to reassure the public, we’re going to keep the pressure on and let these folks know these violent acts just aren’t going to be tolerated in the community.”

After two shootings just a day apart, members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C.’s Uniform Gang Enforcement Team were deployed in the valley.

The UGET members checked numerous cars and people, almost all of them with associations to the street-level drug trade.

In the wake of the sweep, Wells stressed that Courtenay doesn’t have a gang problem.

“When I met with RCMP last week, one, it is called the Uniform Gang Enforcement Team but that’s their designation for the Lower Mainland where they have significant gang activities,” Wells said.

“But the RCMP made it pretty clear that locally, they don’t see it as the same level of criminal organized crime. However, they were brought in specifically to make sure that pressure (was) there so it didn’t give room for that organized crime element to move into the valley.”

Wells said organized crime in the city has been “targeted within their own criminal community,” adding that the public has nothing to fear.

That said, Wells is asking residents to report any suspicious activity to the RCMP.

He added that the city will be working with the RCMP and if needed, the team will return to the valley at random periods, to make sure the criminal element knows that they are not welcome in the community.

Wells also believes the shootings were isolated incidents.

“I’ve lived here for almost two decades and it’s not something that happened on any kind of frequency, and it sort of came out of the blue,” Wells said.

“And that’s not to say that there are times in our past when there has been that criminal element and crime that has been very public. I’m talking decades ago, but when we talk about our modern community that we have right now, I think this was an isolated incident, however, it was certainly a great impetus for the RCMP to call in this task force, make sure that those folks know that that type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

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