Delta Police unveiled the results of an eight-month investigation that led investigators to a fentanyl drug lab in a Burnaby condo, the seizure of more than $1.5 million in cash, numerous firearms, and more than 16 kilograms of cocaine and heroin worth about $900,000.
“This has made our community safer,” said Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.
Although four people have been arrested, Delta Police Acting Sgt. Sarah Swallow said the investigation is expected to result in more arrests and other police investigations based on information pulled from the dozens of cellular phones and computers they seized.
Swallow said the Delta Police investigation into drug trafficking activity in the South Delta area concluded in March, and resulted in police executing search warrants at homes in Surrey, Burnaby and Richmond where they found evidence of drug trafficking.
Charges were approved against Delta’s Adam Summers, 27, and Surrey’s Scott Pipping, 35. They are facing a combined 21 charges, including drug trafficking, drug possession and weapons-related offences.
Nine firearms and two noise suppressors, over 100 kilograms of cutting agents, more than 4,500 oxycodone or oxycontin pills, more than a kilogram of methamphetamine, and 125 grams of pure fentanyl were seized.
Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord credited his officers for their efforts.
“They took what seemed like a seemingly insignificant file in South Delta, and it continued through their persistence to work some very complex undercover projects that presented a significant amount of danger…” he said. “I’m extremely proud of them. They’ve done amazing work.”
Dubord gave reporters some insight into the business model drug lab operators employ.
Money is the motivation, he said, behind the effort to take fentanyl and make it look like heroin on the street.
“It’s very profitable to take a cheap, strong drug like fentanyl and be able to use it in a method that (would make it look) like counterfeit heroin.”
In the Burnaby drug lab, operating inside a condo, kitchen cupboards were covered in sticky yellow memo paper with cooking instructions, “just like you would bake bread or make muffins,” Dubord said.
“They would add the recipes together, in bullet blenders, and they would begin to blend it and they would…wash it with acetone, so it would smell like vinegar, like heroin,” he said.
Food colouring would then be added to make the product look like heroin.
“As a result, they would have a product that they could sell as heroin. So take a cheap fentanyl drug and turn it into something that’s extremely expensive. It’s a great business model when you think about it.”
Last year, there were more than 470 fentanyl-related deaths, and there have been over 200 so far this year.
With no quality control, the product being made had the potential to lead to “catastrophic results” if the recipe was messed up, Dubord said.
“People who are using this drug at the street level, thinking that it be used like their regular heroin on a regular basis…that could result in death,” he said. “Delta Police officers have saved lives.”
A 34-year-old Delta man and a 25 year-old Richmond man have also been arrested for trafficking in a controlled substance and charges are pending.