Seized meth, fentanyl from ‘super drug lab’ estimated at $258M: B.C. RCMP

Click to play video: 'Suspects convicted in 2018 ‘super lab’ drug bust'
Suspects convicted in 2018 ‘super lab’ drug bust
Police seized more than a quarter billion dollars in drugs and drug-making materials in 2018. B.C. RCMP say the last two of the six suspects in one of their biggest drug busts in Canadian history -- have now been convicted and sentenced. Safeeya Pirani has the details. – Sep 12, 2023

Five years after police raided a “drug super lab” in B.C.’s Southern Interior, with the seized drugs exceeding an estimated $250 million, two men were each handed 11-year prison sentences last month.

RCMP say Robyn Leigh Bryson, 38, and Trent Anton Fussi, 33, were each sentenced in B.C. court on Aug. 14 for the production of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The drug bust happened near the small North Okanagan community of Lumby, a village of around 2,000 people, in October 2018.

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Police say Bryson and Fussi were convicted on two counts of production of a controlled substance after being identified as the cooks at the industrial-scale methamphetamine and fentanyl drug lab.

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The two received 11-year sentences for producing fentanyl and six years for producing meth. The sentences are concurrent, meaning they’ll be served at the same time.

The two also each received 10-year firearm prohibitions and DNA orders. Police called it a complex investigation that took several years to complete.

RCMP say, overall, all six suspects in the drug bust were convicted of various drug-related offences. Bryson and Fussi were the last two to be convicted.

“During the initial stages of the investigation that included the execution of several search warrants, federal policing investigators uncovered a large-scale ephedrine extraction, as well as a methamphetamine and fentanyl production lab,” police said.

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They said the main suspects were Bryson, Fussi, Michael Harvey, Tyson Kopp, Michael Piggott and Michael McMorris.

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Police also said given the scale, complexity and hazardous nature posed by the drug lab, a number of other specialized RCMP units were deployed.

Some of those units included investigative squads from Kelowna and Osoyoos, the RCMP’s Clandestine Laboratories Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) team plus the Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit.

The drug lab was raided on Oct. 18, 2018, with the search yielding 48 kilograms of ephedrine, 50 kg of solutions containing ephedrine, 4.5 kg of meth, 556 litres of solutions containing meth, 10 kg of ANPP (a direct precursor to fentanyl), 2.95 kg of NPP (an anabolic steroid), 660 grams of fentanyl and 124.7 litres of solutions containing both fentanyl and ANPP.

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Police say the street value of the seized meth was estimated at $2.2 million, while the seized value of the fentanyl, once cut and mixed, was estimated at $256 million.

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“Since the vast sum of synthetic waste material found on the property posed a significant health and safety risk to local residents, the environment, and regional agriculture, major containment and cleanup efforts ensued,” the RCMP said.

“The search and dismantling of the massive drug super-lab took B.C. RCMP investigators a total of 12 days to complete, with the cost of the cleanup, and disposal of the hazardous waste material totalling nearly $370,000.”

According to the province, since 2016, more than 12,500 British Columbians have died from unregulated toxic drugs – which also is the leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 59, surpassing cancer for middle-aged adults.

The province said drug toxicity accounts for more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural diseases combined.

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This year, 70 per cent of those who died were aged 30 to 59, with 79 per cent being male. In June, B.C. experienced 6.1 deaths per day, which rose to 6.4 in July.

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The BC Centre for Disease Control said that in 2022, unregulated drugs became the leading cause of death for youth aged 10 to 18.

“The sharp rise in illicit fentanyl-related deaths is in large part attributed to the fact that many other types of illicit drugs are intentionally, or in some cases, inadvertently being mixed with toxic fentanyl,” the RCMP said.

“It is believed that the vast majority of youth who end up consuming lethal doses of fentanyl are actually not seeking heroin, and fentanyl; instead, they are seeking other black-market prescription opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, hydrocodone, and benzodiazepines.”

Police added that “since much of the illicit drug supply is contaminated by fentanyl, many unsuspecting illicit drug users are falling victim to polysubstance poisoning from other drugs laced with fentanyl.”

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Based on insights, they said fentanyl is being increasingly detected in stimulant drugs such as cocaine and meth, as well as in sedatives such as benzodiazepines, which greatly complicates the effectiveness of opioid-centric interventions.

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“With toxic fentanyl being increasingly mixed in with other types of street drugs, the opioid crisis seems to be evolving into a poly-drug crisis,” Assistant Supt. Jillian Wellard said.

“This alarming trend is now affecting far more Canadians, and most regrettably, our children and youth.

“This is why the dedicated investigators of the B.C. RCMP federal policing directorate will continue to relentlessly pursue criminal networks responsible for the production, and distribution of toxic drugs into our communities.”

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