An extensive police operation is underway in Quebec to dismantle a network allegedly responsible for the production, distribution and export of synthetic prescription drugs, according to police.
A total of 235 officers from five police forces fanned out across the province on Tuesday morning as part of sweeping raids in Laval, Montreal, Saint-Eustache and nine other communities.
Police say that 20 people have been arrested as of 4 p.m. and that more arrests are expected.
During the sweep, police say officers seized cocaine, methamphetamine and drug presses. They also confiscated about a dozen firearms, according to police.
The massive operation stems from an investigation in February 2018, when the Canada Border Services Agency seized nearly 200,000 counterfeit Xanax pills. The tablets were to be shipped abroad from a criminal organization in Laval, according to investigators.
Laval police spearheaded the operation on Tuesday, with Montreal police and the Sûreté du Québec also participating in the raids.
Health Canada warns that counterfeit medicine is made to look like brand-name or generic drugs to conceal the way it was produced and what it contains. Authorities say synthetic drugs can also contain hidden harmful ingredients.
WATCH (December 2018): 12 people arrested in Montreal-area drug busts
—With files from Global News’ Jamie Orchard and the Canadian Press