A Vernon man was arrested after Nanaimo RCMP pulled over a vehicle that they say contained drugs, weapons and an improvised explosive device.
According to Nanaimo RCMP, officers were patrolling the area near Bowen and Meredith roads at about 2 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, when they spotted a suspicious vehicle. Officers determined the suspect vehicle, an older-model Ford Focus, did not have valid insurance, so they pulled it over to investigate further.
“[Officers] know the problem spots and when they see a vehicle, they’re looking for a reason to stop it,” said Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “It’s not so they can issue a little violation ticket or a warning. It’s so you identify who the driver is, run them for warrants and to see if there’s anything in the car they shouldn’t have. In this case it was no insurance and then, in plain view, they saw some of the prohibited weapons in the back seat, so now they have grounds to not only arrest the driver and pull everybody out of the car, but to do a further search of the car.”
Police found an allegedly stolen insurance sticker, a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, a loaded 12-gauge ‘zip-gun’ improvised firearm, and a prohibited stun gun flashlight. An improvised explosive device was also found in the trunk of the car.
Members of the RCMP explosives disposal unit were consulted and recommended the IED be taken to a safe area until they arrived.
“We took it over to a nearby field, secured it and then [the explosives disposal unit] came over from Vancouver and blew it up,” said O’Brien. “It was a homemade explosive device that could do serious damage or death to somebody.”
RCMP also say they found suspected fentanyl, several hundred dollars in Canadian currency, ammunition and ‘rip-bags’ – kits containing zap straps, handcuffs, duct tape, knives and other items – that O’Brien said are used in home invasions.
A 31-year-old man from Vernon and a 23-year-old man and 28-year-old woman, both from Nanaimo, were arrested. Charges are pending and all of the individuals have been released while the investigation continues.
“They’re obviously involved in criminal activity,” O’Brien said. “Why are they here? What involvement do they have with Vernon? We will share [this] information with Vernon RCMP.”
O’Brien said the incident was an excellent example of general duty officers conducting a investigation that went from a charge of having no vehicle insurance, to the arrest of three suspects and getting weapons off the streets.