The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested several suspected members of a darknet fentanyl distribution network. In mid December, the RCMP raided a drug lab in Chateauguay that had been pumping out fentanyl and carfentanil. Thirty police officers participated in the drug bust and arrested a total of at least eight suspects—some at the drug lab and others at various locations in Montreal.
Only three suspects, as of the latest development, face drug charges in connection with darknet drug distribution. According to the RCMP, 33-year-old Louis-Vincent Bourcier, 30-year-old Valérie Legault, and 30-year-old Robert Mitrache operated a clandestine fentanyl and carfentanil production and distribution laboratory in Chateauguay. While the opioids found their way throughout Canada, sources reported that the trio sold to customers in the United States, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Authorities said that one suspect, the lone woman, was caught at the scene of the crime. Shortly after the raid on the house, officers caught three men in a parking lot of a store nearby.
Bourcier, Legault, and Mitrache face four counts of drug possession, four counts of drug trafficking, and four counts of drug exportation. The Crown has also charged the trio with conspiring with three other suspects between April 2016 and December 2017 in connection with fentanyl importation and exportation.
The RCMP’s analysis of the seized substances is not yet complete. However, RCMP Sergeant Camille Habel said “there was reason to believe that there was fentanyl and carfentanil inside the residence.” To that end, though, two of the suspects first arrested by the RCMP were released without charge. The Crown did not allow the release of the other suspects due to the risk they posed to the case’s integrity.
Officials said the RCMP discovered that the house in Chateauguay hosted a drug lab when a border services officer intercepted a suspicious package at a West Montreal package sorting center in early 2017. During the raid, due to the chances of encountering highly potent opioids, the RCMP received assistance from firefighters from the Châteauguay Fire Prevention Service. Habel explained that these types of drug busts require high levels of precision. “Because the substance is very dangerous, no matter the amount and no matter if we find some or not, we need to deploy the team and we need to protect our officers,” Habel said. “That’s why everyone is wearing the suits — it’s a matter of safety.”
“There’s probably a lot of other labs like [the one the RCMP busted]. It’s the tip of the iceberg, probably,” an addiction doctor in the area said. “I’m surprised we’re producing more and more fentanyl and only a year ago, we were getting that from Asia.” The United States and Canada have worked to keep carfentanil from China from entering North America, but widespread production of the drug within Canada is a new phenomena, officials and private professionals agreed. The RCMP also believes that busting fentanyl labs will be more difficult than finding and busting meth labs.