As many as 100,000 fentanyl pills may have been shipped from Kelowna to Calgary each month, police believe.
Following a joint investigation with Kelowna RCMP, Calgary police say they've been able to make "direct ties" between two large operations in the B.C. city and the source of fentanyl pills in Calgary.
Earlier this month, RCMP in Kelowna finished a "significant" investigation into what they believed was a suspected fentanyl trafficking operation.
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Here's what they recovered using two search warrants:
- About 500 fake Percocet and OxyContin pills.
- 195 grams of suspected fentanyl powder.
- Two industrial pill presses capable of producing 2,500 pills per hour .
- Chemical mixer, showing significant signs of use.
- 8 kilograms of suspected fentanyl powder recovered from a shop vacuum.
- An estimated 800 fake OxyContin pills suspected to be laced with fentanyl.
- Several gold bars, which may be related to a reported theft.
- An estimated $40,000 in cash.
- A Dodge pickup truck (approximate value $60,000).
- A Cadillac Escalade (approximate value $50,000).
RCMP began investigating after CBSA officers advised them that a package containing pharmaceutical equipment was destined for West Kelowna.
The resulting investigation took about three months and resulted in charges against one Calgary man and three people from the Kelowna area.
Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta with the Calgary police says Western Canada is facing a "fentanyl crisis," as organized crime groups are trafficking fentanyl in place of drugs like cocaine.
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"The problem with fentanyl is that it's extremely profitable. The other challenge is that it's being synthesized or manufactured in a foreign country, and it's being mailed to Canada," said Schiavetta.
He added that he expects to find other full-scale operations in the region.
"We'd be naive to think that we don't have any in Calgary. We just haven't uncovered them," he said.
Schiavetta praised the collaboration between the Kelowna RCMP, CBSA and Calgary police that made the drug bust possible.
"We know as a municipal police service, we can't arrest our way out of this," he said. "We need help from all levels of government and policing."