Two arrests have been made and a man and a woman each face potential charges after a sophisticated fentanyl and carfentanil trafficking operation on the Dark Web was shut down by RCMP in Kelowna.
Police revealed Thursday (Oct. 5, 2017) that in September of 2016 the Kelowna RCMP Street Enforcement Unit (SEU) began a multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking investigation dubbed Project E-Neophile.
The focus was on two Kelowna residents suspected of the importation of bulk quantities of both fentanyl and carfentanil from overseas, police said. The drugs were then trafficked throughout Canada and internationally to the United States, Australia and Europe, via the Dark Web of the internet.
“Over several weeks during the onset of the investigation, suspects known to be trafficking fentanyl and carfentanil through the Dark Web, were observed mailing packages to various destinations across North America,” RCMP stated in a news release.
“In early November 2016 the user profile alleged to be associated to the suspects disappeared and remained inactive until early July 2017, when the suspects launched a new user profile on another Dark Web market place.
“On Aug. 10, as a direct result of countless hours of covert surveillance and investigation by the Kelowna RCMP and Calgary Police Cybercrime Support Team, along with assistance from the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA), Canadian Postal Inspectors, the US Department of Homeland Security (HSI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Kelowna RCMP obtained and executed back to back search warrants at a Kelowna area business located in the 1500 block of Pandosy Street and a residence located in the 1100 block of Loseth Drive. Arrests were made at both locations.”
Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said, “As many as 25 packages suspected of containing fentanyl or carfentanil, destined for Canadian, American, European and Australian cities, were intercepted by authorities. In addition, two un-secured firearms were seized from the residence along with approximately $68,000 USD in Bitcoin.
“During the execution of the search warrants, RCMP seized in excess of 120 grams of bulk suspected fentanyl and suspected carfentanil. This in addition to the packages that were seized going out via express shipping courier. Police have also seized over 3 kilograms of unknown powders and substances, which are undergoing further laboratory analysis,” said O’Donaghey.
Information shared with US Homeland Security resulted in the furtherance of several US investigations, five of which have resulted in the seizure of additional quantities of fentanyl, carfentanil, cash and other controlled substances, O’Donaghey said.
“In communications with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, it has been indicated this may be one of the most significant and perhaps the most sophisticated fentanyl/carfentanil trafficking and exportation enterprises that has been uncovered in Canada to date,” said Sgt. Alex Lynch of the Kelowna RCMP Street Enforcement Unit (SEU).
A 35-year-old Kelowna man and a 28-year-old Kelowna woman each face potential charges. Both have since been released from custody on strict conditions and are expected to appear in Court on Dec. 8.