Drugs raids part of crackdown on gangs and guns, police say
Hard drugs heroin and fentanyl have been seized in a series of raids by police designed to crack down on gang and gun crime.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Nicholas Pedro warned that fentanyl – an synthetic opioid and a potential killer which recently claimed a life in Bermuda – has been found at more than one location and may have appeared in the island’s prisons.
He said three sting operations found illegal drugs, including fentanyl.
Mr Pedro added: “The reality is, when you’re targeting gang members, unfortunately that means drugs are involved.”
He said fentanyl, linked to an epidemic of overdoses and deaths overseas and often used to cut other drugs, such as heroin, tended to be “quite rare in Bermuda”.
Mr Pedro said: “The last time we became aware there was a problem was a couple of years ago.
“Some of these latest seizures are as a result of the suspicious death of a man, as well as two others who were subsequently found to have fentanyl in their systems.”
Mr Pedro added: “In Bermuda, the heroin market is more behind doors than we might see with cocaine and cannabis and other drugs.
“We don’t seize heroin as often, but recent investigations led us to the warrants we executed.
“It’s a concerning development and we needed to inform the public from a safety perspective about the presence of fentanyl in these drugs.
“We have had information to suggest this may even have made its way into the prison system. That’s happened before.”
Mr Pedro said: “The danger of buying drugs is you don’t know what it’s cut with, which presents a significant risk to the user.
“I can’t give the amounts we’ve seized – I don’t have that at my fingertips, but they are concerning.”
He added: “With the warrants we have executed, we’ve found fentanyl in more than one location. It’s not just one person – it’s extended to multiple persons.
“Whether there are other supplies other there that have this in their possession, we do not yet know.”
Mr Pedro was speaking after raids resulted in six arrests and the recovery of heroin and fentanyl.
The raids were carried out after a series of drug overdoses, including a death.
Operation Columba, launched on February 6 resulted in large sums of US and Bermuda cash being found at the airport and an East End home.
A 40-year-old man, an airport employee, was arrested in connection with the incidents.
Police netted more cash and what was suspected to be cocaine from a raid in Deepdale, Pembroke in Operation Sole on February 9.
Mr Pedro last year linked a spate of gun violence to warring factions in one of the island’s gangs.
He said yesterday: “We’ve definitely noticed there are people that were within what was known as Parkside who have fallen out with each other.
“There’s this power play as to who is the leader going on between certain individuals.
“We’re seeing this play out, unfortunately, on Bermuda’s streets where young men are vying to be at the top of this particular gang and have fallen out with each other over it – people who were previously friends, or in some cases related to each other.”
Mr Pedro added: “We have people who are members of their own gang getting injured or killed and we have innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.
“It’s a situation we are obviously very concerned about and we have to protect the public from this type of activity.”
He said the financial crime unit was targeting “the cross-border movement of cash which funds drug trafficking and other criminality”.
Mr Pedro admitted that “resources and funding continue to be a challenge”.
But he said the service hoped to boost the team assigned to work on cold cases.
Mr Pedro added: “That team provides us with some of our best results. when we have time and the ability to investigate.
“The challenge comes when we have back to back shootings and murders. You have to move on to other things. We are actively trying to resource that.”
Mr Pedro said the service awaited its allocation in the 2022-23 Budget, scheduled for later this month.
He added that the force was in “a much better space” after absences due to Covid-19 totalled upwards of 40 people a day.
Mr Pedro said the decision to publicise the string of seizures of drugs and money was part of an effort to spotlight a police drive to crack down on gang and gun crime.
He added the recent police operations Pegasus, Sole and Columba were part of “a new period of openness from us”.
Mr Pedro said: “We’ve taken a conscious decision to highlight a lot more of the work that we do.
“We realise that the public and media don’t see a lot of it. In reality Bermuda does have a police service they can be proud of.
“For many years there was some hesitancy around being open about our activity. I think some of that was a traditional mindset of police.”
But he added that the police realised it was important that the public “understand what we do and how we do it”.
Mr Pedro said that different parts of the police service were “breaking down the silos to have a concerted effort tackling the gang problem”.
He added: “This is not to say we haven’t been doing that all this time. We’re just seeing better results with a joined up approach.”