Sorry about misspelling "British Columbia" in the thread title.
Huge B.C. drug bust shows prevalence of ecstasy
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY, Globe and Mail
June 27, 2008
RICHMOND — A Richmond drug bust is the largest in British Columbia's history and is an indicator of a growing problem: B.C.'s synthetic-drug industry is burgeoning, and it's turning Canada into a major international source of ecstasy, RCMP say.
The raid last Friday turned up more than 100 kilograms of crystallized ecstasy and more than one million ecstasy pills, and five people were arrested and charged. Numerous explosives and nine automatic weapons were also found in the River Road residence.
Miranda Suzick, 29, Richard Suzick, 28, John Rahberger, 44, Sylvete Rahn, 33, and Robert Rahn, 34, are all charged with producing MDMA, the main component in ecstasy, and possessing the substance for the purpose of trafficking. Mr. and Ms. Rahn are also charged with producing marijuana and possessing it for the purpose of trafficking.
The accused appeared in Richmond court yesterday and by yesterday afternoon all had been released on bail with conditions except for Mr. Suzick, who was awaiting surety. Their next court appearance is July 31.
RCMP Inspector Brian Cantera, the officer in charge of the RCMP's Greater Vancouver Drug Section, said he thinks B.C. is the top ecstasy-producing province in Canada. He blames a lack of legislation on the legal chemicals and equipment used to make illegal drugs.
"We have, in my opinion, a very tolerant society and we do need some tougher legislation around regulating pill-presses, glassware, the chemicals themselves. ... Anyone can purchase a pill press in B.C.," he said.
Last week's raid revealed two fully automated pill presses, each of which was capable of producing up to 12,000 pills an hour.
"It does make us a bit of an Achilles heel when it comes to producing this kind of product with particular ease," Insp. Cantera said.
The number of clandestine labs that the province's drug operations support unit deals with each year has doubled annually since 2003, said RCMP Sergeant Mike Harding. He said it needs to be harder for drug-makers to get their hands on the tools of the trade.
"They're being delivered to a residence and there's nothing we can do about that because they're totally legal," he said.
Insp. Cantera said many international policing agencies are fingering Canada as a prime source of ecstasy, and this could hurt the country's credibility when it comes to international partnerships. He likened the surge in synthetic drug production in B.C. to the way the province has become synonymous with marijuana grow-operations.
"[B.C. has] what I would term as a well-entrenched organized crime scene and maybe a more tolerant society than elsewhere in Canada."
Mélisa Leclerc, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, wrote in an e-mail that Bill C-428, currently before Senate, would amend the Controlled Drug and Substances Act to make it more difficult to make synthetic drugs.
"The bill would amend the Act to prohibit a person from possessing, producing, selling or importing anything knowing it will be used to produce or traffic in methamphetamine," she wrote.
Insp. Cantera said chemicals from the lab busted on Friday have likely contaminated the soil on the site, which is near the Fraser River and a conservancy bog. Sgt. Harding said the waste from drug labs can wreak environmental havoc because drug-makers will dump it where it's convenient - often remote, ecologically sensitive areas.
"For every kilo of ecstasy made you're going to have 12 kilos of really hazardous waste," he said. "I'll guarantee you there are still 45-gallon containers in pristine areas that are sitting rusting away that nobody's found, and when they break, that stuff seeps into the ground and, depending on where it is - beside a stream, beside a ditch in Richmond ... that stuff's going to carry for miles."
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