Ten people from Alberta are behind bars and are facing 139 charges in relation to one of Canada’s largest fentanyl seizures which included the dismantling of a “superlab” in Calgary according to police.
The superlab was shut down in July of 2021, after Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) said more than 31 kilograms of fentanyl and precursors were seized, along with 7,600 kilograms of chemicals used in fentanyl production. Eighteen handguns, one rifle, vehicles, trailers and a boat were also seized by officers during the investigation which police labelled as Project Essence.
Now, almost one year later, several arrests have been made after investigators “completed the required reports and disclosure for Crown Counsel.”
In a news release on Wednesday, the organization said the suspects have been charged with a variety of offences, ranging from fentanyl production to criminal conspiracy. The suspects facing charges include:
- Jesse Deranger, a 28-year-old man from Edmonton
- Juan Galan, a 55-year-old man from Okotoks
- Gregory Hebb, a 45-year-old man from Okotoks
- Dakota Hogg, a 27-year-old man from Edmonton
- Christopher Loyie, a 33-year-old man from Edmonton
- Jonathon Loyie, a 35-year-old man from Edmonton
- Chad Loyie, a 33-year-old man from Edmonton
- Sierra Meuller, a 19-year-old woman from Edmonton
- Ryan Simpson, a 41-year-old man from Okotoks
- Graham Thomas, a 32-year-old man from Edmonton
To see a full list of charges, click here.
All hands on deck for massive bust of fentanyl superlab in rural Alberta: ALERT
In a news release, ALERT said a Health Canada laboratory expert analysis on the seized substances was completed and showed that one of the seized substances, initially reported as 10.5 kilograms of synthetic opioid, was actually identified to be isotonitazene.
“Isotonitazene — an illicit drug regulated under Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act — is a synthetic opioid that is believed to be more potent than fentanyl,” the news release stated.
To date, the quantity of Isotonitazene seized as a result of ALERT’s investigation is the largest reported seizure of this substance in North America.
The almost year-long investigation conducted by ALERT in relation to this drug bust began in February when ALERT said it received information of attempts to import a 563-kilogram shipment of a chemical used in fentanyl production.
Police said Project Essence covered all aspects of fentanyl production, from importation to accumulation and stockpiling of equipment and raw chemicals, to production and eventual distribution.
The investigation cost roughly $75,000 due to chemical disposal and containment costs associated with the lab.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community are encouraged to call local police or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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