A stabbing at a Langley hotel led investigators to a suspected dial-a-dope ring and a year-long investigation, a recent court ruling has revealed.
On the night of May 31 2020, a 36-year-old man stumbled into the lobby of a hotel on Glover Road, injured and bleeding.
A witness told the Langley Advance Times at the time that the “whole front lobby got covered in blood.”
Police said the attack, for which the victim was treated in hospital, was believed to be targetted.
Surveillance footage showed that three men had forced their way into the victim’s hotel room, two of them armed with knives.
According to a hearing in a New Westminster courtroom on Tuesday, July 27, the investigation would lead police to search a local property, seizing drugs, cash, a gun, and dozens of cell phones believed to be linked to a drug ring.
Justice Kenneth Ball was ruling on whether investigators can keep evidence they seized despite time limits lapsing. In B.C., police must ask the courts for permission to keep seized items after a certain term if charges have not yet been laid.
Ball outlined how the investigation into the attack progressed.
By July 24, officers had search warrants linked to the assault investigation. At one site, they seized three cell phones. At the other, they immediately discovered evidence related to drug trafficking.
Stacks of cash, an electronic currency counter, and a 9mm handgun were seized, along with cocaine, fentanyl, and black tar heroin.
Langley RCMP kept searching locations and vehicles over the next few days, seizing more drugs, including methamphetamines and OxyContin, and more cash.
By mid-August, police had seized more than $35,000, 26 cell phones or electronic devices, and drugs with an estimated street value of $221,000.
The handgun, on detailed examination, turned out to have been a pellet gun that had been illegally modified to fire 9mm bullets.
Police are trying to get access to data on the many seized cellphones, but a lack of staff appears to be holding up the process.
Although all the cellphones were seized in the summer of 2020, it wasn’t until March of 2021 that the Langley RCMP detachment’s only digital mobile field technician (DMTF) was able to examine the devices. RCMP policy is that before an attempt is made to extract phone data, every device must be seen by a DMTF officer.
Since then, the phones have been sent to a private firm that is trying to crack their passwords.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Ball noted that one person, identified as an interested party, was seeking the return of two of the seized cellphones and a seized Hyundai.
Ball ruled the police will get to keep their evidence. The case is sufficiently complicated that police are justified in holding on to the items.
The judge noted that “cellphones may be a very powerful source of evidence in support of drug trafficking charges.”
No charges have been laid in the case, and no suspects were identified in the hearing.
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