A 19-year-old Steinbach man and his dad, along with a woman, have been charged for trafficking the prescription painkiller fentanyl.
RCMP seized quantities of fentanyl as well as the euphoria-producing chemical MDMA, better known as ecstasy, from the 19-year-old as he tried to run from officers during a traffic stop on Friday.
Later that same day, police searched a home rented by a 46-year-old man — the father of the 19-year-old — and his 39-year-old wife in the Rural Municipality of Hanover.
At the couple's home, officers found more fentanyl as well as some prohibited weapons, including a sawed-off semi-automatic rifle, a blow gun and a push dagger.
The 46-year-old man and his wife were charged with prohibited weapons offences and possession for the purpose of trafficking fentanyl. The couple appeared in court on Tuesday and has been released from custody.
The 19-year-old man has been charged with trafficking, resisting arrest, and breach of recognizance and breach of probation. He also appeared in court on Tuesday, but he remains in custody.
Spike in overdoses, incidents in past 2 years
Normally prescribed to patients with cancer-related pain and severe chronic pain, fentanyl was being sold on the streets to people of all ages, according to police.
The fentanyl seized in this case were in pill and powder form, they added.
Steinbach RCMP Sgt. Rob Lasson said there has been a spike in fentanyl-related incidents and overdoses in and around Steinbach in the past two years.
"We've had some deaths that we believe is related to an overdose of fentanyl," he told CBC News, adding that the province's medical examiner is currently investigating those cases.
"We've had numerous hospitalizations, et cetera, with a lot of young adults in the community," he added.
Steinbach has 'a lot of drugs,' says ex-addict
Steinbach resident Tami Renz, who has battled drug addiction in the past, says people would not expect to hear about the amount of illegal drugs, such as crack and cocaine, in the southeastern Manitoba city.
"Steinbach, unfortunately, has a lot of drugs…. You'd be surprised," she said.
Sgt. Lasson said the latest arrests will curb the availability of fentanyl in the Steinbach area.
"I do believe that these arrests are significant in reducing the amount of fentanyl that will be available on the street, which will thereby, you know, minimize the amount of overdoses and effect on the community," he said.
Renz said she will be glad if the arrests make a dent in the local drug trade.
In the meantime, she said she is trying to help a friend who is addicted to fentanyl.
"I don't know, really, how he got addicted to it. Lot of crack, lot of cocaine around here, and people try to get off of that, go to that drug," she said.