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Organized crime likely behind record MDMA bust in Kelowna
Police are not saying exactly how they clued into a "clandestine super lab" of MDMA, the chemical concoction commonly converted to Ecstasy pills.
But they will say the resulting bust of three properties in Kelowna and Westbridge is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, MDMA (methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine) bust ever in British Columbia.
“Production methods at this level points directly to the involvement of organized crime groups motivated by profit," said Insp. Rick Flewelling, operations support officer for the Kelowna RCMP, in a press conference held Tuesday.
Ecstasy, described as a brand of MDMA, is served as a pill and the amount of raw materials in this operation could provide up to 200,000 pills, making the 3.5 kilograms of product worth over $1 million.
The processing lab was on Christian Valley Road, just outside Beaverdell on the way to Rock Creek, in a settlement known as Westbridge.
Police had identified one individual who was already known to them and followed through with an investigation from there; although they would not say what triggered it or how the events unfolded.
What is known is that on Wednesday, Nov. 21, RCMP executed a search warrant on Christian Valley Road property, finding a number of individuals cooking MDMA in an exothermic reaction lab.
The Kelowna bust followed with police searching a storage locker and a private residence in the Mission on Chute Lake Road. The home is the residence of 32-year-old Ryan Patrick Novy and is said to be the office hub of the operation and a storage locker containing the chemical precursors to MDMA.
Novy is among four people subsequently arrested in the case and is now facing four charges related to the case including possession for the purposes of trafficking and production of a controlled substance. Alesya Efimenko, 29, William Charles Forrest, 24, and Bradley Fraser Garth, 39 are charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking and production of a controlled substance.
The case returns to court Jan. 31 and more arrests are expected to follow.
The 'E' Division Clandestine Lab Enforcement and Response Team was deployed and attended the first two sites for assessment and to dismantle and process the scenes.
The lab alone was said to have 500 gallons of toxic waste and the Chute Lake property some $85,000 in cash, not to mention bags of MDMA.
Police could not say exactly how long the entire operation had been up and running, estimating it at somewhere between six months and two years.
"Precursors and active clan labs pose huge fire risks and potential hazmat situations to the immediate environment, neighbourhood and community due to the nature of the chemicals used and their toxic by-products," said Sgt. Duncan Pound who deals with superlabs provincially. "As devastating as this environmental damage can be, it pales in comparison to the lives of both youths and adults that are destroyed by the types of synthetic drugs being produced in clan labs."