EDMONTON — Police say they have seized nearly $4 million worth of fentanyl pills in Edmonton as part of a massive bust they believe to be Canada's largest of the powerful opioid.
An investigation into a group believed to be trafficking a large amount of drugs began in March.
Officers seized $2 million in fentanyl pills at an Edmonton home more than three weeks ago and then searched three more homes in the city, plus another in nearby Sturgeon County. It was there that police and RCMP officers found a house that had been made into a fentanyl pill-processing lab.
"We know that this drug bust is very significant and we believe that we have saved a number of lives by taking all this fentanyl off the streets,'' Staff Sgt. Karen Ockerman with the Edmonton Police Service's drug and gang unit said Friday.
Ockerman said police aren't naive enough to think there aren't any other labs out there.
"But we think this had made a difference.''
The investigation led to a total of 130,000 fentanyl pills being seized with an estimated street value of $3.9 million.
The bust also turned up four ounces of carfentanil — an opioid 100 times more powerful than fentanyl — along with cocaine, methamphetamine, cannabis extract, $1 million in cash and a pickup truck with a hidden compartment.
Other items seized included four cement mixers small enough for a person to carry and two pill presses that together can make 10,000 pills an hour, said Const. Jason Wells, who works on an RCMP unit focused on clandestine laboratories.
'We had never seen it before'
It's believed the cement mixers were used to mix the fentanyl with other agents and chemicals before making them into pills.
"We had never seen it before. Our colleagues around the country with other clandestine lab teams had never seen it before,'' said Wells.
"It was very interesting to us, they way they were doing it, being able to adapt and manipulate things, to mix and press out the pills the way they did.''
Charges are pending, and police are not releasing the names of the suspects involved.
Wells said random swabs taken around the Sturgeon County house found traces of fentanyl. Alberta Health Services has deemed it unfit for human habitation.
— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
Also on HuffPost: