The stereotype of an illicit drug operation is that of some ramshackle, run-down house with boards nailed over the windows.
The truth, these days, is far different. Perhaps even a little surprising.
Some drug rings are actually spending their days manufacturing, storing and selling their products of death in some pretty swanky digs in luxury highrises in Burnaby and other spots in Metro Vancouver.
Just this week, Burnaby RCMP released details of a mid-level drug ring that was busted operating out of highrise condos in the Metrotown and Brentwood areas. It’s unclear if they owned the units or were just renting.
“As the investigators continued gathering intelligence over the following months it became apparent that this was a drug operation that was not just active in Burnaby but also in other communities in the Lower Mainland,” stated an RCMP news release.
Police moved in on May 30, executing search warrants at the two buildings and seizing two kilograms of prepackaged, street-ready drugs, bulk fentanyl and cocaine, $50,000 in cash, valuables such as watches and jewelry, and two vehicles.
Earlier this year, a man was convicted in connection with his role in a high-level drug operation. His job was mainly to go around and rent stash houses in high-end condo buildings in Burnaby and other Metro Vancouver areas.
In June 2018, the NOW wrote about a drug lab that was operating not in some dingy warehouse, but in a high-end apartment in the High Gate neighbourhood in South Burnaby.
The drug dealers had an arsenal of loaded firearms and were cooking up deadly drugs with Magic Bullet blenders and frying pans.
When police finally entered unit with a search warrant, they quickly backed out again after finding open foil packages of fentanyl on the kitchen counter.Decked out in hazmat suits, members of the RCMP Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team returned to find more than 1,578 grams of the deadly drug. Fifty times more potent than heroin, a typical street level hit of fentanyl weighs about one or two grams – about as much as a grain of salt.
The apartment was being used to cut it with fillers in Magic Bullets and cook it in a frying pan to achieve the colour, texture and even smell of pebbled heroin.
Unbeknownst to their neighbours, the stove used to cook up these “highly toxic products” was also being vented directly outside of their complex, according to court documents.
That must’ve been some shock to the neighbours. Loaded weapons. Toxic drugs. Highly flammable chemicals.
Operating out of high-end Burnaby condos makes it more difficult to spot such illicit operations. After all, when you live in such a building, you probably don’t suspect your neighbours of committing heinous crimes. Then again, so many of these condos probably sit empty because they are owned by speculators, so there aren’t exactly a lot of neighbours around to be suspicious.
I’ve also been told by people working in law enforcement that there are a lot of luxury condos in Burnaby that house prostitution operations.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.