Edmonton

Two men charged after Edmonton police dismantle fentanyl lab, seize $435,000 in drugs

A record fentanyl seizure is only "scratching the surface" of a growing black market for the deadly drug in Edmonton, according to investigators behind the raid.

'Naive to think that this will have an impact on the drug trade in Edmonton,' says Insp. Dawyne Lakusta

Petra Schulz's son died from a fentanyl overdose in 2014. She believes prevention is key rather than enforcement. 2:39

A record fentanyl seizure is only "scratching the surface" of a growing black market for the deadly drug in Edmonton, according to investigators behind the raid.

An extensive investigation by the Drug and Gang Enforcement unit ended on New Year's Eve when officers raided a fentanyl lab and seized more than $435,000 in illegal drugs.

"This is the biggest bust we've had here in Edmonton with fentanyl" said Insp. Dawyne Lakusta on Thursday, hours after details of the bust were released to the public for the first time.

"It would be naive to think that this will have an impact on the drug trade in Edmonton. That's the scary part. What they're doing with these pills, it's Russian roulette."

In total, nearly 11,000 illegal prescription pills and pharmaceuticals were seized in the raid, including tablets of fentanyl, MDMA, Cialis and Viagra.

Lakusta said evidence suggests the drugs were being mixed with blenders and a single pill press, and the possibilities for cross-contamination are alarming.

"An innocent person purchasing one of these drugs unknowingly could be introduced to a lethal dose of fentanyl," Lakusta said. "Any one of those pills could result in the death of a person.

"Users need to be aware of the dangers involved in the purchase and use of black-market pills."

More must be done to prevent deaths

A woman whose son died of a fentanyl overdose a year and a half ago applauds the bust, but says more must be done to prevent more victims from dying. 

Petra Schulz said when her 25-year-old son Danny died, few had heard of fentanyl.

Now everybody knows of it, she said. 

She encourages anyone that takes any drug from a dealer, even Viagra-like pills, to treat it like heroin.

Police pointed to the latest numbers from Alberta Health, which show that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2015 there were 213 overdose deaths in Alberta linked to fentanyl.

"If we continue to see this trend continue, we will see and experience possibly a death per day in Alberta due to fentanyl use," Lakusta said.

Police say the stash included a number of illegal pharmaceutical drugs, including fentanyl, MDMA, Methylamine and Benzocaine.

Police searched a home near Woodvale Road and allegedly found a fentanyl pill-making operation and a stash of other illegal drugs including:

  • 5,996 green fentanyl pills (street value of $239,840), plus 11.2 grams of powder
  • 2,930 white fentanyl pills (street value of $117,200) , plus 130.4 grams of powder
  • 2,145 counterfeit Cialis pills (street value of $42,900)
  • 174 counterfeit Viagra pills (street value of $1,740)
  • 0.8 grams of fentanyl powder (street value of $32,000)
  • 28 grams of MDMA (street value of $1,700)
  • 183 grams of Benzocaine
  • 273 grams of Phenacetin
  • 33.8 grams of Methylamine HCL
  • 63.85 kilograms of various mix/buffing agents

Officers also located a small amount of fentanyl in a residence in the area of Lakewood Road and $7,750 in a residence located in Spruce Grove in connection to the investigation.

A 27-year-old man and a 26-year-old man face possession and trafficking charges.