The fentanyl crisis in this country is real and it’s very close to home. It’s not just a problem for the users. As we learned over the past weeks, your neighbour could be producing it on a scale never before seen in this country.
On Friday police revealed that the Sturgeon County home in the Northern Lights Subdivision was part of the biggest fentanyl bust in Canadian history. Police seized 130,000 pills worth about $3.9 million from the Sturgeon home and four other homes in Edmonton. The total drug seizure was a stunning $4.3 million in drugs and $1 million in cash. Charges are pending.
It is not the first time that fentanyl was discovered in our area; the first was discovered in St. Albert in 2014. Last year police also discovered carfentanil – considered 100 times stronger than fentanyl – in our city
While police discover drug labs periodically, it is not every day that such a huge discovery is made in a residential subdivision, just 7 km from St. Albert. In this case police say they had never before seen this scale of production that involved using cement mixers to mix fentanyl with fillers like caffeine and sugar; and pill presses capable of spitting out 10,000 pills an hour.
It is a frightening development in an already escalating fentanyl crisis. One of the police officers involved in the investigation said the drugs were likely bound for the Edmonton region. Fentanyl killed 113 Albertans in the first three months of this year, compared to 73 for the same period in 2016.
The statistics don’t tell the whole story. Those who die because of the deadly drug leave a lot of heartache for their families and friends. Some of the people who die might not even have known they were using fentanyl, since it’s often mixed with other drugs.
Earlier this year St. Albert mother Faye Gray shared the devastation at the loss of her daughter Lindsey who was found dead from a fatal overdose of methamphetamine and fentanyl in 2015. Faye Gray said she doubted her daughter knew she had consumed fentanyl. Her daughter left behind a four-year-old son.
The latest bust does point to possible leads that police could use to track people who are producing drugs in residences. Not everyone who buys a cement mixer does so for drug production. Most people would have trouble justifying their purchase of a pill press. Last year in effort to stem the fentanyl tide, the Alberta government made it illegal to own a pill press without a license.
While the latest bust is not the end of the problem, it is an important development in cutting off one pipeline. Taking these drugs off the street has no doubt saved countless lives in and around St. Albert and Edmonton areas. Make no mistake, fentanyl is a very real problem in the community. It’s killing people and there are people living here that are profiting off of this deadly drug. Kudos to the police for shutting down this lab. This is a crisis that requires police, politicians and everyday citizens to be vigilant.