RCMP seize 40,000 fentanyl pills in international trafficking investigation
More than 130 kilograms of cocaine also seized from B.C.-bound shipping container
Two B.C. residents have been charged after 132 kilograms of cocaine and 40,000 fentanyl pills, believed to be linked to an international crime group, were seized en route to the Port of Vancouver.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found the cocaine inside in a refrigerated shipping container at the U.S Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport in February 2016. The ship, arriving from Brazil, was making a stop in L.A. on its way to B.C.
Officials found a total of 110 packages containing the drug inside three hockey bags.
The discovery prompted a formal investigation, in which U.S. officials collaborated with the RCMP to gather evidence and find possible suspects.
Mounties searched an apartment in Richmond, B.C., in relation to the investigation and found "numerous" pieces of evidence in the home — including 40,000 fentanyl pills and a one-kilogram brick of methamphetamine.
"These seizures would definitely have impacted the transnational organized crime networks involved," said RCMP Supt. Cal Chrustie in a statement released Tuesday. "Even more importantly, we believe that preventing these drugs from reaching our communities has undoubtedly saved countless lives."
Chrustie said it's believed the traffickers were "tailgating" on the ship from Brazil, which happens when drugs are piggybacked on a legitimate shipment of goods.
Yan Chau Lam and Sok Wai Cheong were arrested by RCMP in February 2016.
Lam, who also goes by the first name Andrew, has now been charged with one count of conspiring to import a controlled substance, conspiring to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, and three counts of unlawfully possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
Cheong faces one count of conspiring to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. She also goes by the name Gertrude.
Lam, 48, lives in Richmond and Cheong, 43, is from Vancouver. They're both due in court on Oct. 31.