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B.C. drug smuggler gets 15 years in prison after feds crack fentanyl-by-mail scheme

RCMP and CBSA officials show off drugs, guns and cash seized as a part of a major fentanyl import bust from 2017. .
RCMP and CBSA officials show off drugs, guns and cash seized as a part of a major fentanyl import bust from 2017. . Global News

A B.C. drug trafficker has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, after border officials and the RCMP broke up a major fentanyl importing scheme.

The BC RCMP says it netted 13.7 kilograms of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues when it searched a home belonging to Jaroslaw Orzel in Richmond, B.C. in 2017, in an operation called “project EPhiloxenia.”

READ MORE: Man beats fentanyl trafficking charge due to charter violation. Here’s the video of the police dog sniffing the car

Police describe the bust as one of the largest ever in Canada for fentanyl.

Canadian government taking “significant steps” to combat opioid crisis: Public Safety Minister
Canadian government taking “significant steps” to combat opioid crisis: Public Safety Minister

Orzel was charged with two dozen drug and weapons charges. He pleaded guilty to two charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one firearm charge last month, and the remaining charges were stayed. He was handed 12 years for the drug charges and three years for the weapons charge.

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According to Yvette-Monique Gray Canada Border Services Agency Pacific Region Enforcement and Intelligence Division Director, the border service’s intelligence section first caught wind of Orzel in July, 2017, when it identified suspicious import behaviour.

READ MORE: Meth, fentanyl, money, imitation handguns seized in downtown Kelowna search warrant

The intelligence unit was able to identify Orzel and the method he was using to ship drugs into Canada, she said. The drugs had originated in China, and were being received in post office boxes in Richmond, according to officials.

“In total, the CBSA was able to link this importer to seven previous seizures of fentanyl that were made in the international mail and courier streams,” she said.

Illicit drug users are being warned that there have been 19 suspected carfentanil-related deaths in B.C. this month alone, seven of them within the IH region
Illicit drug users are being warned that there have been 19 suspected carfentanil-related deaths in B.C. this month alone, seven of them within the IH region

The CBSA alerted the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit, which began a domestic investigation and linked the imports to Orzel’s property, where it’s believed the drugs were being stored, said Officer in Charge of FSOC Chief Supt. Kieth Finn.

Police executed a search warrant at Orzel’s Richmond home on Aug. 10, 2017, where they found more than nine kilograms of fentanyl, along with a smorgasbord of various analogues, ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, and precursor chemicals, he said.

READ MORE: $300,000 in meth, fentanyl and cocaine seized in Calgary drug bust: ALERT

“This is a very significant amount of fentanyl to be seized in such a relatively brief time period,” said Finn.

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Officers also found a Glock 17 hand gun and a semi automatic rifle, $195,000 in cash and 2.19 bitcoin — worth close to $11,000 at the time.