Police are treading very carefully at the scene of a suspected drug lab at a mid-town home, allegedly used to produce crystal meth.
Firefighters were called to a duplex on Woburn Ave., in the Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue area, early Wednesday after a chemical odour was detected in the area.
Fire crews called police around 4am when they reportedly discovered what appeared to be booby traps outside the home, which was empty at the time.
The hazardous materials (Haz-mat) unit and the drug squad were called in as people in surrounding homes were forced out, due to the highly-explosive chemicals allegedly inside the home. Authorities claim one portion of the duplex was used as a lab and another portion was used to store equipment.
“We found an active crystal methamphetamine lab. It’s a highly dangerous process that goes on to manufacture these drugs. What we found was an active process and two cylinders which are of great concern to us … they’re highly explosive,” Toronto Police Staff Inspector Mario Di Tommaso explained.
“Typically these dwellings are completely destroyed by the meth lab…they are an environmental disaster.”
In the interest of safety, investigators are working very slowly at the scene and the process is expected to take the entire day.
Police applied for a search warrant later Wednesday morning in order to remove the chemicals from the home. Di Tommaso said Health Canada chemists will be brought in to analyze the substances at the scene and a commercial hazardous waste disposal team will be called upon to clean up.
Di Tommaso said drug lab operators do their best to hide their illegal outfits in residential areas, and even in more upscale neighbourhoods, like the alleged lab discovered Wednesday.
“The people that engage in this type of conduct will likely keep to themselves,” he explained. “There is a great amount of equipment needed to get these meth labs up and running so there will be all sorts of activity hidden from public view.”
The scene of Wednesday’s discovery is a rental and Di Tommaso said the landlord could be held partially responsible in this case.
“The landlord could be held civilly liable for permitting this to go on, but not criminally,” he explained.
“The taxpayer and City of Toronto are on the hook for the dismantle and removal of all these chemicals at this place.”
Neighbours were rattled by the heavy presence of police in the usually quiet area.
“I thought I was on a movie set when I walked out and saw everything, it’s surprising,” said one woman. “I said to the police officer, you wouldn’t think in this neighbourhood, but I guess in any neighbourhood anything could happen.”