Officers with the Waterloo Regional Police Service have begun removing evidence from a home on Biscayne Drive in Cambridge, Ont. that police allege was a clandestine drug lab.
Investigators say the lab, which is tucked away in a suburban home at 1748 Biscayne Dr. near Hespeler Rd. and Dunbar Rd., was producing crystal meth right under neighbours' noses.
"We received information over the last couple of weeks that led to us getting a search warrant for the residence here on Biscayne. We ended up executing it last night and it's revealed a fairly large scale methamphetamine lab inside," Inspector Dave Bishop with the WRPS told CBC on Thursday morning.
It's the first meth lab police have found in the region since 2010, according to Staff Sgt. Shirley Hilton, who heads the WRPS drug branch. Hilton says the only other meth lab, the one discovered in 2010, was on Jarvis Street in Cambridge, in an industrial area.
Three people have been arrested in the case, two men and a woman. Police say they will release more information about the trio later Thursday.
Bishop suspects the lab has been operating for some time. It's unusual to find a meth lab in a suburban neighbourhood, he added. He also said it's been a "number of years" since police have found a meth lab of this size in Waterloo Region.
Bishop said neighbours had wondered about a change to the local air quality.
"Some of the neighbours here when we talking to them last night mentioned that they noticed a chemical smell that had been lingering for some time, and they could never really determine the cause of it," he said.
"Unbelievable, never seen anything like it in my whole life. Unbelievable," said Martha Hertel, who has lived diagonally across from the house for 35 years. "I'm blown away from it, never seen anything like it, ever."
Hertel says the neighbourhood is close-knit and friendly and everyone was talking about the house after police arrived Wednesday night.
Another neighbour told CBC's Andrea Bellemare that he had no idea the house was actually a secret drug lab.
"Biscayne Drive ends in a dead end and then there's a bit of a green space and a bit of a fence. Apparently on the other side of this dead end drive are some factories and the neighbour told me he always thought the smells were from the factories. He didn't pay any attention to it," she reported on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.
'Lots of chemicals'
Firefighters and paramedics were on the scene at Biscayne Drive as police prepared to start removing chemicals from the house. Cambridge Fire set up decontamination pools on the street outside the house to clean off workers involved in moving the chemcials.
"There's lots of chemicals, it's mainly contained to the basement, so there's a lot of vats of some fairly dangerous chemicals down there," said Bishop.
Bishop said he also expected officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Health Canada to arrive later.
"We'll end up having a Health Canada chemist coming later today," said Bishop. "They are really the experts for the whole process of making methamphetamines. So they come in both ... to give us some advice and some expertise on it and also to assist us in identifying some of the chemicals and identifying the risk for removing them."
The residence appeared to be lived in, according to Bishop.
Waterloo Regional Police are advising neighbours on the usually-quiet street to expect a heavy police presence as officers dismantle the drug lab over the next several days.
"Potentially with what's in there, only because the process is very slow...it's probably looking it will be at least tomorrow before we finalize everything," said Bishop.
A police news release published Wednesday night said while there is no danger to the public, firefighters and paramedics would be at the scene "due to the high level of unpredictability of the chemicals used in the creation of this[sic] type of substances."
"The chemicals are dangerous. And when this lab was up and running, there was obviously a risk to the neighbourhood here so it's very good we've been able to shut it down," said Bishop. "It's quite concerning when you think it's very close to a public school here as well."