Nothing looked out of place at the two-storey house at 412 Manhattan Dr. in Markham. Flowers planted outside gave the home a lived-in look and the lawn was manicured. But nothing was normal about this house.
When a passing resident notified the fire department of an unusual amount of smoke coming from the chimney on Saturday, firefighters found $10 million worth of industrial chemicals used to make drugs such as ecstasy.
Reports say this was the biggest ecstasy bust in North America.
Today police are looking for an unknown number of suspects now that the house, in the 16th Avenue and McCowan Rd. area, is officially a crime scene with Health Canada officials there to decontaminate it. Detectives can't step foot inside until all of the hazardous toxins are removed.
Even the residents at the two adjoining houses have been evacuated.
Reports are the house was purchased a few weeks ago for up to $400,000 in cash.
Police are trying to find the homeowners.
It may take up to a week to clear the home of the chemicals so an investigation can continue.
As with any chemical, you have to treat it with care or there could be a major explosion," said Sergeant Joanne Waite of York Region police. "These industrial-grade chemicals are very highly flammable."
Investigators found various equipment and chemicals used to make the drug ecstasy.
Substantial amounts of the chemicals, which include ethanol and dextromethorphan, were also found scattered within the house, police said.
This isn't the first time York police have made a major ecstasy drug bust.
Four years ago this month, York Region police seized millions of dollars worth of the chemicals used to produce ecstasy from a Markham home.
It was considered to be the largest illicit-drug laboratory bust in Canadian history.
But Waite says while ecstasy is a common illicit drug in York Region, it's unusual to find drug labs and manufacturing operations in the region.
"We haven't come across too many labs in York Region recently," Waite said.
"So this is a surprise."
York Region is becoming a burgeoning area for marijuana grow houses and ecstasy labs. But officials say ecstasy labs are even harder to detect because the homes don't have to be set up with vast amounts of hydroponic equipment.
Police say that the suspects are becoming more sophisticated in their operations, even going as far as to hire out families with children to live in the houses so as not to tip off the public.
However, police say that the public should be aware of the unusual aspects of smoke coming from the chimney in the summertime and to notice if there is a lot of traffic, especially cargo vans, coming in and leaving at all hours.