Suspected fentanyl production site shut down

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RCMP and Edmonton Police are investigating a suspected fentanyl lab in Sturgeon County.

A home, located in the Northern Lights Estates community around 7 km northwest of St. Albert, has been deemed “unfit for human habitation” by a public ordered issued by Alberta Health Services on July 7.

The Alberta Health executive order issued states that the conditions in the home at 306-26023 Township Road 544 are or may become “injurious or dangerous to the public health.”

“Based on information received from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), including still pictures taken by RCMP and viewed by EPH staff on site, the housing premises was being used as a clandestine drug laboratory for suspected fentanyl production/processing and it is likely that some of this substance was tracked and/or involuntarily dispersed throughout the housing premises,” the AHS order states.

Edmonton Police said that they are working with the RCMP on the investigation and they will eventually hold a press conference when they have more information.

“In the coming weeks we will release more information. The investigation is ongoing,” Cheryl Sheppard, a spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said.

The order states that the owner, Phat Vuong, and the property manager, Van Vuong, must get the house cleaned before anyone can enter the premises again. No charges have been laid in the investigation and police have not linked the owners with the suspected fentanyl production.

“That the owner immediately undertake and diligently pursue the completion of the following work in and about the above noted premises … hire the services of a professional remediation company that specializes in hazardous materials remediation to clean the house of fentanyl contamination. Cleaning of the house must be completed in such a manner that protects the general public and future occupants from fentanyl contamination during and after the cleanup,” the notice stated.

Fentanyl was first found in St. Albert in 2014 when 200 pills disguised as OxyContin were seized from a home.

In December of last year an even stronger opioid was found in the city. A drug bust turned up pills that looked like OxyContin but after sending the drugs away for testing, it turns out it was the deadly opioid carfentanil. Since then, a second seizure of carfentail has been made in St. Albert.

Fentanyl is the prescription painkiller that is 100 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil is an opiate 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It takes just two milligrams of pure fentanyl, about the size of four grains of salt, to kill an average sized adult.

The death toll for fentanyl continues to rise in 2017 with 113 fentanyl-related deaths in the province from the first three months of 2017. In the first three months in 2016 there were 70 fentanyl-related deaths.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.