UPDATE: Large-Scale Fentanyl Seizure

Edmonton… Two Edmonton residents have been charged in connection with a lengthy and complex fentanyl production investigation by ALERT.

ALERT, the province’s integrated response to serious and organized crime, seized 100 kilograms of the fentanyl precursor N-phenethylpiperidinone (NPP), four kilograms of W-18 powder, and 3,200 fentanyl pills containing W-18. Based on conservative estimates, the 100 kilograms of NPP could produce a theoretical yield of 38,000,000 fentanyl pills.

Project Alchemy was a nine-month ALERT Edmonton fentanyl production investigation that concluded with arrests on July 6, 2016. The investigation dates back to October 2015 when Canada Border Services Agency officers at the Edmonton International Airport intercepted 100 kilograms of the fentanyl precursor NPP. The powder was contained in four barrels and originated in China. CBSA referred the seizure to ALERT who conducted a follow up investigation.

ALERT dedicated a significant amount of time, resources, and made this investigation its highest priority given the public safety ramifications. On December 9, 2015 search warrants were conducted at an Edmonton home, a Red Deer County business, and a suspected fentanyl lab in Leduc County.

Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan, Commanding Officer of the Alberta RCMP stated, “(As the Commanding Officer of the RCMP in Alberta), I want to emphasize our commitment to disrupting the criminal activity of those who would try to destroy our communities through the drug trade. Together with our law enforcement partners in ALERT and the CBSA, we will continue to focus on reducing social harms related to substance abuse.”

The following items were seized from the Leduc County rural residence:

  • 4 kilograms of an unknown powder, later determined to be W-18;
  • 1.5 kilograms of N-phenethylpiperidinone (NPP);
  • 46 kilograms of caffeine powder used as a binding agent;
  • 3,200 fentanyl pills;
  • 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine;
  • 10 litres of gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB);
  • Pill press;
  • Powder mixer;
  • 5 vehicles.

The fentanyl pills seized in Leduc County were white and had similar markings to a Percocet pill. The pills were confirmed as fentanyl after initial lab analysis, but only recently did further testing reveal that the pills also contained W-18. ALERT issued a public notification concerning the W-18 powder seizure on April 20, 2016.

The search warrant at the southeast Edmonton home of the accused resulted in the seizure of chemicals used in the production of MDMA, firearms, and cash:

  • 2 kilograms of benzylpiperazine (BZP);
  • 2 kilograms of Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazinem (TFMPP);
  • Loaded shotgun;
  • Ruger SR22 semi-automatic rifle;
  • Various ammunition and 2 prohibited magazines;
  • $8,500 cash proceeds of crime.

Between the date of the search warrants and time of arrest, ALERT has been diligently pursuing all investigative avenues including lab analysis, technological crimes analysis, and DNA analysis. ALERT received assistance from Edmonton Police, Alberta Sheriffs, RCMP, CBSA, Health Canada, Emergency Medical Services, Edmonton Airports Emergency Services, and Leduc County Emergency Services.

Dean Clayton Abbott, 41, and Shavon Carlene Wenger, 32, were arrested on July 6, 2016 and have been charged with numerous drug offences. Abbott and Wenger have been jointly charged with:

  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking (x 2);
  • Possession of proceeds of crime (x 2);
  • Possession of a firearm without a license;
  • Storage of a firearms contrary to regulation;
  • Possessing a firearm without a license;
  • Storing a firearm contrary to regulation;
  • Possessing a prohibited device without a license;
  • Carless storage of a prohibited device.

Abbott also faces the additional charges of:

  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking (x 2);
  • Possession of proceeds of crime (x 4);
  • Possession of stolen property.

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime. Members of Alberta Sheriffs, Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, and RCMP work in ALERT.