VICTORIA -- A specialized police unit targeting organized crime in British Columbia says it has prevented the expansion of a dangerous drug-trafficking gang from the Lower Mainland into Nanaimo.

The RCMP's Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU) says its disruption efforts against the Brothers Keepers gang began in 2018 after violence related to the group spiked across the province.

The CFSEU set up a dedicated task force to monitor and suppress the Brothers Keepers' activities, which police say include drug trafficking and the production of synthetic opium.

The two-year crackdown on the group involved work by police forces in Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, Vancouver and the Canada Border Services Agency, among others, the CFSEU said in a statement Tuesday announcing their disruption of the gang's expansion.

The RCMP say the Brothers Keepers network is made up of a dozen core members, each with their own criminal affiliations, amounting to a network of approximately 194 people.

Police say the network has spread to all corners of British Columbia, with connections in Alberta and Ontario.

"However, throughout the expansion efforts of the Brothers Keepers, our task force was successful in disrupting their intended expansion into the Nanaimo area of Vancouver Island," the CFSEU said.

Police say the Brothers Keepers emerged in 2017 and immediately came into conflict with rival gangs, including the Red Scorpions, the Hells Angels, the Wolfpack, and the United Nations.

"This conflict resulted in violence manifesting on streets and in communities across the province," according to police.

Since early 2018, police have had 259 interactions with suspected Brothers Keepers members and their affiliates across 21 jurisdictions in B.C., according to the CFSEU. Those interactions have led to the seizure of more than 30 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, police said.

Despite police efforts, the Brothers Keepers organization continues to operate even as COVID-19 has restricted travel in and out of the province.

"Crime does not quarantine and neither have the Brothers Keepers," the CFSEU said.

The Brothers Keepers task force continues to investigate the gang and expects charges against members will be announced.

The CFSEU said there was a 38.5 per cent decrease in gang-related murders and attempted murders in B.C. from January 2017 to December 2019.