By: Adam Williams
Kamloops This Week
Kamloops Mounties have busted what they say is the largest meth lab ever discovered in the city.
The raid in Barnhartvale last week has resulted in a major blow to drug distribution in the Interior.
The lab, found in an outbuilding on the property of 1756 Pratt Rd., is estimated to have had the ability to produce roughly six kilograms of meth per production cycle. That translates to about 60,000 doses of the drug every 48 to 72 hours.
“It’s a significant operation,” RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said. “We’ve not seen anything of this size in Kamloops previously.”
Bush said that based on the size and capability of the lab, the drug would have been destined for Kamloops and numerous other areas, inside and outside the province.
Mounties executed the warrant on Wednesday, June 24, after investigating the lab for more than three months. Bush said it was an active lab at the time of the raid.
Two Kamloops men, ages 25 and 55, were arrested and will face charges in relation to production and trafficking of a controlled substance.
Bush said both men are known to police.
“Without getting into specifics, we can clearly state this is certainly linked to organized crime, based on the level of sophistication and the volume of this lab,” Bush said, though she could not name specific organizations.
The RCMP clandestine lab team was working on processing the lab Friday, with officers wearing hazardous-materials suits and gas masks as they sorted through the lab and its production materials.
According to Cpl. Derek Westwick of the RCMP clandestine lab team, the materials used in the production of the drug pose a significant threat to the health of his team and area residents.
In a corner of the property, a tank of compressed hydrogen chloride gas leaned against a tree, a deadly chemical that, if released into the air, would have significant impacts in the area. The gas was just one of many dangerous materials found on the scene, according to Westwick.
The lab is similar in size to what Westwick sees in some of his other cases, which have included operations in B.C. and the Yukon.
Friday’s events came as a surprise to neighbour Mark Carlson, who said he “never had a clue” the drug was being produced in the area, let alone across the street.
“Not here, not on this street anyways,” he said when asked if he had any idea methamphetamine was being produced so close to his home of 27 years.
“I think there’s been some stuff happen down in Barnhartvale. Not up here, never.”
Carlson described that area as quiet and his neighbours as nice people who keep to themselves. The ranch-style properties are highlighted by basketball hoops in driveways and horses grazing in yards.
The home, owned by Joel E. Garrett, according land title records, was assessed at $489,000 in 2015.
“My concern is, is there anything else around here that’s going on?” Carlson said. “I mean, if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.
“It’s quite a shocker.”
Bush said the Pratt Road investigation was associated with a search warrant that was executed in the 2700-block of Valleyview Drive earlier this month, when police seized a kilogram of cocaine, as well as methamphetamine, heroin and 758 tablets of oxycontin.
Two other search warrants were executed on associated locations last Thursday.