A major fentanyl lab has been shut down and nearly $8 million worth of illicit drugs have been intercepted by Vancouver Police in a recent drug investigation.
According to the Vancouver Police department, the drugs were destined for distribution on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland area, and are believed to have been manufactured and trafficked by organized crime groups.
“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,” said 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 BC’s overdose crisis and the criminals that profit from it.”
#VPDNews: A #VPD drug investigation has shut down a major fentanyl lab and intercepted nearly $8 million in illicit, deadly drugs that was destined for distribution in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. https://t.co/tZ4whZVRN0 pic.twitter.com/NiK2oADED8
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) April 12, 2023
The investigation, known as Project Toluene, was launched by VPD’s Organized Crime Section in January.
Police said it focused 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 21st, with assistance from Richmond RCMP and BC’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 of fentanyl, two kilograms of cocaine, 800 grams of methamphetamines, and $365,000 cash.
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.
Heard emphasized that drug investigations are complex and that VPD is committed to doing everything it can to root out the criminals who endanger our communities.
“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.”