Fire probe leads police to clandestine drug lab in View Royal home

An investigation of a suspicious fire at a home in View Royal led to the discovery of a clandestine drug lab in a family neighbourhood, West Shore RCMP say.

Police said there was evidence of children living in the home.

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Officers were called to the scene on June 20 about 9 p.m. by the View Royal Fire Department after a fire was found in the kitchen of a basement unit rented by a 35-year-old woman.

The woman suffered burns to her arms.

Officers determined that the fire was caused by chemical extraction from cannabis, and a search warrant of the residence was carried out the next day.

Police said they found a “sophisticated” lab that was producing a concentrated form of cannabis known as shatter. Chemical extractions of cannabis like shatter can’t be legally purchased in Canada.

Items seized during the investigation include about 45 kilograms of dried cannabis, cannabis resin and oil, shatter in various stages of production and more than $1,000 in cash. Also found were solvent — illegal for use in cannabis production — more than 500 canisters and cans of used butane and high-quality lab equipment.

“Producing shatter involves the use of organic solvents, which is an extremely dangerous activity,” said Const. Kevin Pollock of the West Shore RCMP Crime Reduction Unit. “The lab was in a neighbourhood bordering parks and children’s playgrounds.”

He said the Crime Reduction Unit worked with the RCMP Clandestine Lab Team to go through the scene.

“The investigation is ongoing,” he said. “A variety of charges relating to drug production and distribution under the Cannabis Act and other potential Criminal Code offences are being sought.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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