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Bath salts seizure lands West Kelowna women in trouble
Declaring giant packages of crystal powder to be table salt appears to be what first tipped off border inspectors that something was amiss with a massive shipment of illegal drugs bound for West Kelowna.
Three packages, totalling 16 kilograms, of the illicit drug methylone (street name bath salts) were shipped from China to an unnamed business in West Kelowna, arriving at the downtown Vancouver Canadian Border Services Agency inspection hub in August.
Two women from West Kelowna have subsequently been arrested in connection with the seizure, though the arrest was not executed until over a month later, RCMP said in a press conference Thursday morning. Neither woman has been charged with a criminal offence as yet; the investigation is ongoing.
"Prior to the arrest of these two women on Sept. 19, this drug has primarily been seen in the U.K. and the United States with small amounts recovered in the Maritimes and Ontario," said Sgt. Peter Thiessen, RCMP spokesperson for 'E' Division.
"This isolated, but large, seizure here in B.C. has made it clear that the RCMP, and our partner agencies, should take this opportunity to warn and educate the public," he added.
According to RCMP the group of drugs referred to in street terms as bath salts are highly addictive amphetamines mixed with an ever-changing cocktail of other drugs and toxins.
"The drug is called bath salts because it takes the form of a white or crystal powder that looks like salt. It is obviously very different from the Epsom salts commonly used in bathing.
"The drug contains a potentially lethal combination of amphetamine-type stimulants and other unknown ingredients…including drugs and toxins," said Thiessen.
Canadian Border Service Agents are trained to notice abnormalities in the mail according to Heather Ardiel, CBSA chief of operations at the Vancouver International Mail Centre, and three separate officers isolated each of the three packages the drugs were found in, initially using screening technology.
The packages contained a pale brown substance, which raised suspicion when opened, and were sent away for testing.
"I think it's safe to say these drugs could have been distributed in this community here and many other communities throughout the country," said Thiessen when asked where the drugs were likely to be sold.
Bath salts are more typically a compound known as methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV, that can be smoked, snorted or injected. The drug has led to some crazy news stories, such as "Bath salts blamed for machete attack," about a Florida woman who attacked her mother while high.
So popular is the substance south of the border that in some areas it has spawned review sites and Twitter accounts, like @BathSaltsReviews, where users can rate and describe the effects of various forms of the drugs.