Three people have been charged with drug trafficking after police concluded a three-month investigation into the sale of heroin suspected of being laced with fentanyl in Oshawa, Ont.
Durham Regional Police said Project Explorer involved police, drug enforcement officers and help from investigators at Halton Regional Police’s drug unit, which focused on the trafficking of the “dangerous form of heroin” laced with the powerful opiate.
Undercover officers were involved in a drug transaction at a parking lot in a plaza in Oshawa on Friday. Police said a suspect attempted to flee the scene in a vehicle and struck four police vehicles before being boxed in by officers.
Investigators then executed a search warrant at an address in Halton Region and an undisclosed amount of heroin and money were seized.
Police said laboratory tests are currently being done to confirm the heroin was laced with fentanyl.
Bryan Lemieux, 33, of Oshawa, has been charged with four counts of drug trafficking and three counts of possession of proceeds obtained by crime.
Pankaj Bedi, 37, of Clarington, Ont., faces four charges each of drug trafficking and possession of proceeds obtained by crime.
Police also charged Justin Bellinger 27, of Oakville, Ont., with drug trafficking, possession of proceeds obtained by crime and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
Sgt. Bill Calder told Global News police have seen fentanyl on the streets of Durham Region for at least two years and said fentanyl impairment was also suspected in a case involving a man who drove over himself in Scugog Township on Oct. 1.
Police in Barrie, Ont., reported five people overdosing on fentanyl after using cocaine at a party, which they said could have been fatal if paramedics hadn’t intervened immediately.
Calder said suspects had been targeting fentanyl in recent pharmacy robberies in Durham Region.
“They don’t ask for cash anymore,” he said. “The only people who can truly probably get away with taking fentanyl are the ones that are already addicted to heroin … but if you’re somebody that accidentally takes it, it can be fatal.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Drug Enforcement Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5802 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.