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UPDATE: Man arrested for largest cocaine seizure in Abbotsford
It was early Saturday morning, and the Abbotsford Police's patrol division had just begun the day shift.
Two officers in separate cars were driving in the 2000 block of Clearbrook Road – near the Highway 1 – when they spotted a suspicious-looking man.
The man was standing in a parking lot beside two medium-sized duffle bags, and he didn't appear to be connected to any vehicle. He looked nervous, and kept picking up the bags and putting them down.
The officers pulled over and asked the man a few questions, but he didn't give any clear answers about what he was doing there and what was in the padlocked bags.
A search of the bags led to the Abbotsford Police Department's (APD) largest bust of its kind. Within the two bags was a total 60 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated street value of between $1.2 to $1.8 million, according to APD spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald.
The 24-year-old man was arrested, and police have recommended a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking. He cannot be named until charges are formally laid.
MacDonald said the man does not live in Abbotsford but in another Fraser Valley community which he would not name.
The suspect is not known to police for gang or drug activity, and police are now trying to piece together which gang or organized crime group is involved and the destination of the cocaine.
MacDonald said the suspect is providing few details at the point. Police believe he was waiting for a ride and, because of his proximity to the freeway, may have been headed out of the community.
"We're probably making a mistake if we say that 60 kilograms (of cocaine) was destined for Abbotsford or that it's part of the drug trade in Abbotsford," MacDonald said.
He credited the two police officers for their instincts in spotting the man and noting his nervous behavior.
The APD's patrol division, drug enforcement unit and gang suppression unit are continuing to investigate.
The second largest cocaine bust in Abbotsford's history was 40 kilograms, found in a berry field in the area of Mt. Lehman Road and Zero Avenue in 2009. Two men were arrested nearby.
Randeep Match, 30, and Manindervir Virk, 24, were each sentenced last September to five and a half years in prison for possession for the purpose of trafficking.