Comments Off on B.C. man’s disappearance leads to massive meth bust

Loaded guns strewn around home, loaded gun kept in baby’s crib

The discovery of a major methamphetamine-producing operation in B. C. with links to organized crime in Europe began as a missing persons case in Vancouver.

Mounties held a news conference Wednesday to show off the weapons, money, drugs and drug-producing equipment seized in the two-year multi-jurisdictional investigation dubbed Project E-Perstringe.

Supt. Pat Fogarty of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. said what they unearthed amounted to a number of “super labs” designed to produce both methamphetamine and the precursor ephedrine.

Fogarty said in their investigation that it was clear the meth operation had ties with Eastern European organized crime.

Organized crime experts were called in shortly after Ron Carlow, 38, was reported missing in June of 2007 to the Vancouver Police Department by his girlfriend.

“Project E-Perstringe began as a missing persons’ file with the VPD and during that time the VPD learned of this case having potential ties to organized crime,” said Fogarty.

But not too far into the investigation, Fogarty said the VPD realized they were on to a large-scale methamphetamine-production operation “with production capabilities of multi-kilos in one batch.”

“Essentially they were super labs we found,” said Fogarty. “They weren’t like any other drug manufacturing operations we normally see.”

Besides the actual production of the dangerous drug at two locations in Surrey and Pritchard, Fogarty said the group had at least another six super labs pre-built and ready to be put into operation.

Stainless steel equipment needed to cook the drugs at high heat was also found to have been built by the people behind the meth production.

“It was one-stop shopping,” said Fogarty. “Many of these chemicals are highly explosive. It could level or implode a significant area.”

The chemical explosion Fogarty said could potentially bring a significant structure such as a bridge to the ground or even level a neighbourhood.

Authorities had ongoing surveillance on the properties in Surrey and in Pritchard, which is about 40 km north of Kamloops. The Pritchard residence had a just-built bunker which police believe was about to be set up as a drug lab.

“It shows how organized crime has migrated to rural areas,” said Fogarty.

At the Pritchard residence, dozens of loaded rifles and handguns were left all over the property in case of trouble, he added.

Even more troubling to authorities was the two-year-old baby living in the midst of the weapons and drug operation.

“We saw the husband and wife continually packing pistols,” said Fogarty. “At every aspect of the home there was a firearm in reach,” he said. “It was set up like a military compound to protect themselves.

“All the ammunition was stored in the baby’s crib.”

Fogarty said the meth producers even had white mice in a cage so that their demise would detect any gas or toxic spills on the property.

Cpl. Luc Chicoine of the RCMP Clandestine Lab unit said it is difficult to say how much meth the group had produced before they were caught. He said the equipment produced at the property raided in Surrey was of poor quality and could blow up under intense heat.

The family of Ron Carlow made an appeal after the press conference for anyone who knows what happened to him to contact police.

“Please help to try and bring our brother home to us,” said Carlow’s sister Loretta Copley.

“This has been devastating for our family.”

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