Jerry Martin died of an overdose just months after announcing his plans to sell tested drugs out of a store in Vancouver. Now, the province is trying to take possession of the trailer he used as a mobile business.
He gave multiple media interviews, purporting to sell uncontaminated drugs to users out of his mobile store in an effort to subvert the toxic street supply, beginning in November 2022. In May 2023, he opened his store for a day.
Vancouver police sent an officer to buy $425 of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin on May 3, the same day he opened the store at the intersection of Main and East Cordova streets.
According to a notice of claim in BC Supreme Court, police pulled him over in a traffic stop later that day. Martin was arrested and police found around $4,000 in cash, a cell phone and body armour when they searched him, then seized the trailer and Chevrolet Tahoe.
Martin was 51 years old on June 30. He was suspected to have overdosed on fentanyl, according to CBC.
The BC Civil Forfeiture Office said the trailer is “proceeds and an instrument of unlawful activity” in a civil court claim as it aims to seize it for good.
The province would have done so without going to court, but it was challenged by the owner of the trailer, Robert Woolsey, who’s faced drug charges in the past for his role in pre-legalization cannabis dispensaries.
Earlier this month, both Woolsey and Martin’s mother, Melodey Rennie, claimed an interest in the trailer.
The Civil Forfeiture Office said the drug store trailer was used for the purpose of trafficking drugs, the possession of the proceeds of crime and laundering the proceeds of crime. Other unlawful activity included Martin’s possession of body armour without a permit, according to the notice of claim.
The claim goes on to say Woolsey, who leased the trailer to Martin, knew or ought to have known what the trailer was used for prior to the closure of Martin’s store,
Police found 106 grams of opium, 71 grams of methamphetamine, 40 grams of cocaine and eight grams of heroin inside the trailer when they searched it on May 5. It also had drug packaging material and Martin’s signage for “The Drugs Store.”
They also searched the Tahoe, which had unknown amounts of ketamine and MDMA, a bottle of LSD and three vials of an unknown substance. Beyond the drugs they found, the trailer also had a cell phone, drug paraphernalia and a lease agreement for the trailer, according to the civil claim.
It’s not clear what happened to the Chevrolet Tahoe.
The civil claim was filed in BC Supreme Court on Oct. 27 and neither Rennie nor Woolsey have replied.
Since Martin’s store was shuttered and the trailer was seized, Vancouver police also raided a compassion club earlier this month, which similarly sold tested drugs.
The Drug User Liberation Front purchased drugs on the dark web before testing them, then sold them to users on the Downtown Eastside.
It’s been doing so for more than a year in an effort to get safer, uncontaminated drugs to users. It published its own study last month finding people were reporting fewer overdoses as a result of their program.
Vancouver police later arrested two people, searched two homes and the compassion club’s office on Oct. 26.