Restrictions urged on materials, equipment used to make drugs; Major bust proves the need for tighter restrictions, RCMP says
The RCMP says the recent bust of a major Richmond drug lab is confirmation that Ottawa needs to clamp down on legal loopholes facilitating the manufacture of synthetic drugs.
At a news conference Tuesday, RCMP displayed drugs and weapons seized after an 18-month investigation. The haul included 14,000 ecstasy pills, three kilograms of MDMA pow-d er, six kg of ketamine, $250,000 in cash and several long-barrelled shotguns and rifles.
There was also an industrial-grade mixer, a pill press and barrels used to contain various "precursor chemicals" — many of which are legal to import, sell and possess under current legislation.
"Importing a multi-stage pill press that produces thousands of pills per hour would have no legal use unless used in major pharmaceutical manufacturing," said Chief Supt. Bob Harriman.
B.C. Solicitor-General Kash Heed said he has asked the federal government to restrict the availability of such equipment, as well as precursor materials including ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and methylamine hydrochloride.
"I'm advocating for changes in the law," said Heed. "We need to come down hard and fast on the flow of illicit drug precursors in Canada. We need regulations that enable us to respond quickly to rapid changes in drug crime trend."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Whalley said in a phone interview that Washington state implemented regulations in 2005 that require vendors of drugs such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to report customer information and quantities to the state.
Customers buying more than 10 mg must register and present identification.
Those caught with large amounts could spend two to 20 years in prison.
"It substantially decreased the number of methamphetamine labs in the state," said Whalley. "If drug manufacturers are unable to buy large quantities of pseudoephedrine, they can't make methamphetamine."
Whalley said the B.C.-Washington state border sees the most ecstasy and MDMA seizures in the country, and figures increased after the new regulations.
Earlier this year, the United Nations released a world drug report that named Canada as a major source country for synthetic drugs. Most precursor chemicals are imported from India and China and finished products are exported back to Asia and the U.S.
Nine people from Richmond, Vancouver and Abbotsford, including two women and two with ties to Asian organized crime, face numerous drug charges in connection with the Richmond drug-lab bust.
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 | 11:31 pm
Canwest News Services
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Restrictions urged on materials, equipment used to make drugs; Major bust proves the