Vancouver – A Vancouver Police drug investigation has shut down a major fentanyl lab and intercepted nearly $8 million in illicit, deadly drugs that were destined for distribution in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
“Every day in British Columbia, more people die and new people become addicted to illicit drugs that are manufactured and trafficked by organized crime groups that operate in plain sight,” says Inspector Phil Heard, commanding officer of VPD’s Organized Crime Section. “While the results of this investigation are impressive, there is much more work that needs to be done to address B.C.’s overdose crisis and the criminals that profit from it.”
VPD’s Organized Crime Section launched Project Toluene in January, focusing on a group of criminals that were manufacturing and trafficking illicit drugs at various locations throughout the region. The investigation led police to a fentanyl lab operating inside a house in a residential Richmond neighbourhood. On March 21, with assistance from Richmond RCMP and B.C’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, Vancouver Police executed a search warrant to dismantle the lab.
Investigators seized more than seven kilograms of suspected fentanyl, 800 grams of methamphetamines, and $39,000 cash from inside the lab. A man arrested near the lab was found in possession of an additional 15 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, along with two kilograms of cocaine and nearly $48,000 cash in a nearby vehicle.
VPD’s Emergency Response Team later executed a search warrant at a condo tower in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, believed to be operated by the same organized crime group, and seized an additional 4.7 kilograms of fentanyl, and $272,000 cash.
In total, investigators seized:
- 27.7 kilograms fentanyl
- two kilograms cocaine
- 800 grams methamphetamines
- $365,000 cash
“Drug investigations are complex, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to root out the criminals who endanger our communities,” adds Inspector Heard. “We’re grateful to our partners at Richmond RCMP and CFSEU for their assistance in this investigation, and we will continue working with other law enforcement agencies to target organized criminals who produce illicit drugs.”
Three men initially arrested by Vancouver Police have been released pending completion of the investigation. Multiple charges related to production of controlled substances, and possession of controlled substances for the purpose of trafficking, will be recommended against the suspects.