July 28, 2017 2:20 pm
Updated: July 28, 2017 8:07 pm

Historic fentanyl seizure in Edmonton ‘complex’, drug operation ‘innovative’: Police

WATCH: RCMP explain the complexities behind the fentanyl pill processing lab.


Edmonton police said they have made the largest fentanyl pill seizure in Canadian history and have dismantled a drug lab in the process.

Police said they started a drug trafficking investigation in March.

On July 5, the Edmonton Drug and Gang Enforcement Unit conducted a search warrant on a house in Edmonton, where 67,000 fentanyl pills with an estimated street value of $2 million were seized.

WATCH: Police discuss the seizure of 130,000 fentanyl pills 

Police also conducted search warrants at three other Edmonton houses and a fourth in Sturgeon County.

READ MORE: Suspected fentanyl lab confirmed at Sturgeon County home raided last week

A fentanyl pill processing lab was found at the home in Sturgeon County. An Alberta Health Services executive order, issued earlier this month, stated the house in Sturgeon County at 306-26023 Township Road 544 was deemed “unfit for human habitation.”

WATCH: Police say it’s becoming common to see fentanyl on a ‘day to day’ basis

Const. Jason Wells with the RCMP’s Federal Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team (CLEAR) calls the operation “complex.”

“I was very concerned when we entered the house and saw the scale and size of the production they had,” he said.

WATCH: Const. Wells expresses his concern over the drug operation

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He said there were two pill presses capable of each pressing out 5,000 pills an hour.

There were also four cement mixers believed to have been used to mix fentanyl powder, buffing agents and cutting agents before being pressed into pills, Wells said.

“The process the people responsible for [this] took to mix the powder and press them out is an innovative – a new way of mixing powder,” he said.

“We had never seen it before; my colleagues around the country with other clandestine lab teams have never seen it before. It was very interesting to us the way they were doing it – being able to adapt and manipulate things, press the mix and press the pills the way they did.”

WATCH: RCMP officer says drug lab was most complex he has come across

Wells said the equipment used to create the drug operation can be bought at any hardware store.

The total quantity of drugs seized in this investigation included:

  • 2.4 kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $129,000
  • 1.8 kg of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $52,000
  • 834 – 1gram packages of cannabis extract (shatter) with an estimated street value of $58,000
  • 130,000 fentanyl pills with an estimated street value of $3.9 million
  • 4 oz. of carfentanil with an estimated street value of $14,000
  • 658 grams of fentanyl laced powders with an estimated street value of $115,000
  • Approximately 100 kg of buffing agents

“This was a significant drug operation that has been dismantled,” Staff Sgt. Karen Ockerman said. “We know we have saved lives by taking that quantity of fentanyl off the streets.”

“We’re not naïve to think this has eliminated all the fentanyl obviously but we think this has made a difference,” she said.

“We are also realistic in thinking there are other labs out there.”

Ockerman said charges are pending but would not disclose any other details, such as what charges are possible and how many people may be facing charges.

More than $1 million in cash and a vehicle with a hidden compartment were also seized.

WATCH: A four-month investigation between Edmonton police and the RCMP led police not only to millions of dollars worth of fentanyl, but to new techniques being used to produce drugs. Kim Smith reports. 

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