W-18 — a drug that's 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
Developed in the 1980s as a pain reliever, it has no marketable use, Coquitlam RCMP say, and it's uncommon to find such a drug in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.
Yet, it was found among a large drug-trafficking seizure recently completed by local Mounties and partner detachments across the region in at least four other communities.
Roughly 18 g of the suspected W-18 was taken out of the hands of dealers among a total street value of $3 million from the 18-month investigation.
Insp. Todd Balaban said his team is pleased to make this kind of seizure as W-18, if dealt and used, could've quickly claimed more lives.
"We're really focused on people that are importing and dropping the drugs, especially drugs that are very toxic and dangerous to us," he added during a news conference this morning (Feb. 16).
The Coquitlam RCMP-led initiative, known as "ENEVERMIND" by the detachment's drugs and organized crime unit, targeted known dealers in the Tri-Cities, beginning as far back as summer 2021.
As a result, there are 13 accused suspects that could potentially face charges: Five were arrested over the course of the investigation, between the ages of 20 and 46, while RCMP are recommending charges against eight others.
All involved have been released pending approval from the BC Prosecution Service.
Balaban said some of the people involved were a known group that focuses on drug trafficking across the Tri-Cities, Burnaby and Pitt Meadows.
The arrests followed seven search warrants that were executed on Jan. 25 this year at four locations in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge.
"And those seizures, it impacted all the communities for taking them off the streets," Balaban said, believing the public shouldn't be concerned for safety considering the scale of the seizure.
"The takeaway from this is we've taken a significant amount of illicit and toxic drugs off the streets, which will reduce harm for people."
The drugs were set to be used for distribution among adults in the Tri-Cities, including psilocybin in the form of edibles like gummies and chocolate bars.
In addition to two vehicles, two replica handguns and $145,000 in Canadian cash, the list of suspected illicit substances seized were as follows:
- 52 kg of methamphetamine
- 30 kg of psilocybin edibles
- 3 kg of cocaine
- 1.5 kg of dry psilocybin
- 1 kg fentanyl
- 426 g of MDMA
- 250g of ketamine
- 73 g of W-18
- 1.2 g of heroin
All of the above has a wholesale value of $1.2 million, Balaban said.
Other agencies involved in the investigation included the Lower Mainland Integrated Emergency Response Team and Ridge Meadows RCMP.