British Columbia

6 suspected drug labs uncovered in Richmond in one day

Six suspected drug labs in Richmond were put out of commission Wednesday in simultaneous police raids carried out by Richmond RCMP and Delta police.

Separate operations conducted by Richmond RCMP and Delta police net 'highly unstable' chemicals, suspects

The RCMP Clandestine Lab Team and investigators descended on one of six suspected drug labs in Richmond Wednesday. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

Six suspected drug labs in Richmond were put out of commission Wednesday in simultaneous police raids carried out by Richmond RCMP and Delta police.

Richmond Mounties hit three homes in western Richmond suspected of producing synthetic drugs.

In a separate investigation, Delta police officers targeted three commercial properties in eastern Richmond under the Cannabis Act.

Details about the types of drugs being produced have not been released — but in the case of the Richmond RCMP raids, volatile chemicals were seized.

"These types of investigations pose a significant danger to our officers and to our community as a whole," says Sgt. Gene Hsieh of the Richmond Organized Crime Unit. "Some of the chemicals are highly unstable, and it will take some time to render these sites safe before continuing our investigation."

The Clandestine Laboratory Team of the RCMP was called in to assist with Wednesday's raids.

At least two dozen officers were involved.

Several investigators in hazmat suits could be seen entering one of the homes, located on Comstock Road.

The other house, on Blundell Road, was sealed Wednesday and entered by investigators on Thursday. 

Richmond RCMP has asked that the addresses be withheld.

Officers in hazmat suits prepare to enter the garage of a home on Comstock Road in Richmond. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

'Major investigations' led to raids

The Delta police operation hit two commercial properties on Westminster Highway and another on Sidaway Road, all three in rural areas of eastern Richmond.

The Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit assisted the Delta police-led operation.

Delta police spokesperson Cris Leykauf confirms a number of suspects were arrested, but charges have yet to be laid.

Leykauf says warrants were executed at the three commercial locations after a "major investigation."

Richmond RCMP state its raids on the three other locations "were part of an eight-month targeted investigation into suspected synthetic drug production across the city."

An RCMP cruiser blocks the entrance to a home in western Richmond on Wednesday, one of six locations hit in separate raids conducted by Richmond RCMP and Delta police. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

6 drug labs discovered in Richmond since July

The six suspected drug production operations shut down Wednesday follow another drug lab discovery during the summer.

A house on Calder Court in Richmond burst into flames in July. 

A fire at this home on Calder Court in Richmond in July revealed a shatter drug lab. It's not known if this week's six raids are connected to this operation. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

RCMP search warrant documents obtained by CBC News revealed a massive drug lab was uncovered and at least $1.1 million in "shatter," a potent marijuana derivative, was found. 

It was one of the biggest seizures of illicitly-produced shatter in Canadian history.

The search documents stated the blast and fire were likely sparked by 15 illegally-wired ovens and cannisters of butane and propane used to produce shatter.

Police officials refuse to say if the latest Richmond raids are related to the discovery of the shatter production facility.

Both forces say their investigations are ongoing.

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Eric Rankin

Investigative journalist

Eric Rankin is an award-winning CBC reporter. His honours include the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Reportage, the 2017 and 2015 RTDNA awards for Best In-depth/Investigative Reporting, and the 2009 Jack Webster award for Best News Reporting.