A Calgary couple has been charged in connection to a drug trafficking investigation that led police to a home in the Evanston area that was allegedly being used as a fentanyl production lab.
In September, police received a tip from the public about a ‘dial-a-dope’ business that was being operated by two people.
Officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in northeast Calgary on October 12 and seized the following:
- $3,415 Canadian currency
- $58,000 counterfeit Canadian currency in $100 and $20 denominations
- A folder containing counterfeit reflective security strips for the production of counterfeit Canadian currency
- 100 fentanyl pills
- 3.3 grams of heroin
- 2.9 grams of crack cocaine
- Drug packaging materials and cell phones
- Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun
A search warrant was then executed on a home in the 0-100 block of Evansborough Green N.W. and police found what they believe to be a fentanyl production lab inside the residence.
A manual pill press and an industrial-style electric pill press were located in an attached garage.
Police also found:
- 10.7 grams of crack cocaine
- 1,145 fentanyl pills
- Unknown white powder
- Blue and red dye containers containing dye consistent with dying fentanyl pills a green/blue colour
- $429,600 in counterfeit Canadian currency, in both $100 and $20 denominations
- $25,700 counterfeit U.S. currency
- Numerous sheets of “money paper” with bills printed on each sheet, but not yet cut
- Counterfeit Canadian currency reflective strips, enough to create approximately $4.5M in counterfeit currency
- Ink, large-scale printers, computers and other counterfeit currency manufacturing supplies
- A Mossberg Defender 12-gauge shotgun
- Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle
- Ammunition of various calibres
The home was evacuated and the RCMP Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) Team was called in to assist.
Officials say initial tests show that W18 and fentanyl were both present inside the home and further tests are being conducted.
Police say the firearms were stolen during a recent break and enter in Panorama.
Behrooz Rafizada, 27, and his wife Jocelynn Aida Saliba, 28, were arrested and face 59 charges in relation to firearms, drug trafficking, production of a controlled substance and currency counterfeiting.
This is the first time that charges have been laid under Alberta’s new law prohibiting anyone from owning, operating or possessing equipment used to make pills without a licence.
Staff Sergeant Mark Hatchette, with the Strategic Enforcement Unit, says the pill presses are significant because the tool was allegedly being used to produce upwards of 120,000 fentanyl pills per day.
"We see that the lab that we located was in the attached garage and the criminals know this; they know how dangerous this is. They don't want to keep it in their house, they know how dangerous this is," he said.
Hatchette says that Calgary police are working to address a number of the issues and that the people charged in this case and other drug investigations are facing significant jail time
"Almost half a million dollars was seized in counterfeit money both Canadian and American. We've conducted investigations on how they recieved holograms because the money is of such high quality that it's been used in 99 confirmed cases here in Calgary," he said. "We do this to make people safe. This is our line in the sand, we will no longer allow this to happen in our city. This is something we didn't know about three years ago but it's something that we're actively addressing with all of the resources we have available."
Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr says the government is working with provinces to take action to reduce opioid related deaths.
“Opioid-related overdoses have claimed the lives of thousands of Canadians, devastating families and communities throughout the country. Our government is continuing to work with the provinces and territories to take action. Bill C-37 now requires every pill press or encapsulator imported into Canada to be registered with Health Canada. Officers at the border now have the authority to detain unregistered pill presses and encapsulators and information can now be shared with law enforcement agencies in the course of an investigation.”
Marlyn Gladu, Conservative Federal Health Critic, says the conservatives supported Bill C-37, except for the safe injection sites, and that ‘the government is not doing enough toward prevention and treatment.’
More charges may be laid depending on the results of tests conducted on other substances seized from the home.