Last week's bust of a suspected fentanyl lab in West Kelowna — the first of its kind in the Interior, RCMP say — has many in the community on edge.
The lab was found at Kandy and Krome Kustoms, a restoration and custom car shop on Auburn Road in West Kelowna. Police also searched a home on Peterson Road as part of the investigation.
In total, police found 1,000 fake percocet and OxyContin pills, over eight kilograms of fentanyl powder, two industrial pill presses, gold bars and tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
- Fentanyl overdose death triggers a mother's plea for action
- Fentanyl crisis: 6 people charged after lengthy VPD investigation
- Fentanyl crisis: Easier access to Suboxone urgently needed, experts say
The Auburn Road lab was also located directly behind Constable Neil Bruce Middle School, to the surprise of Principal Ashley Ragoonaden.
"It's shocking to think that there's such dangerous things right next to our school," he told Radio West producer Jaimie Kehler.
"Those students are with us as soon as they leave our door and come to our school, and once again when they leave our school and go to the safety of their house … so we're looking to create as safe an environment as we can."
Sgt. Darin Sheppard, who investigates synthetic drug operations for the RCMP's E Division, says police have found about six fentanyl labs so far in B.C., the majority in the Lower Mainland.
He says this is the first major one in the interior, but that doesn't mean there aren't more.
"There's no doubt more labs out there that police haven't located, or taken enforcement action on yet," he said. "We've located labs … near schools, near daycares, in industrial areas, farms. Pretty much any neighbourhood you can imagine."
Sheppard says with fentanyl use increasing province-wide, it's anyone's guess where one of these labs might be.
However, he also says police are hopeful this bust will make a "significant impact" in the Okanagan, at least for now.
"As we've seen with other drug trafficking organizations and other commodities, as soon as one organization is taken out of the mix, someone else is more than willing to step in," he said.
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Fentanyl lab bust, first for Interior, has West Kelowna worried