York regional police say a mound of trash ultimately led them to a mountainous cache of methamphetamine that was allegedly being produced inside two Greater Toronto Area homes.
The investigation, dubbed Project Discard, began on Nov. 13, 2018, when police were called after more than 100 garbage bags and plastic canisters were found dumped on a driveway on Woodbine Avenue in East Gwillimbury.
Police say the bags were emitting strong chemical odours and the canisters were marked as corrosive. Investigators later determined that the garbage contained the remnants of synthetic drug production.
On Dec. 2, 2018, police found a similar dump site at a second property on Woodbine Avenue, near Mount Albert Road.
The months-long probe culminated on March 14, 2019, when police executed numerous search warrants across the GTA.
“One dormant lab was located on Kennedy Road north of Holborn Road in East Gwillimbury and one active meth lab was located on 10th Side Road in Innisfil,” York regional police said in a release. “During the execution of the search warrants, officers seized approximately $5 million dollars in methamphetamine, five vehicles and Canadian and U.S. currency.”
Det.-Sgt. Doug Bedford said the discovery of the dump sites ultimately led to the dismantling of the largest methamphetamine production operation in the force’s history.
“We ask the public to remain vigilant in reporting these dump sites, they are very important to us,” he stressed in a YouTube video. “They hold a lot of evidence and are key to our investigations.”
Bedford said synthetic drug labs pose a significant risk to the public, and to police who must use extreme caution when dismantling them.
“There’s an extremely high risk of explosion and fire as well as all the toxicity associated with the chemicals being used,” he said.
“They are carcinogens, they are corrosive, they are toxic, they are poisonous … the byproducts can be lethal or deadly to people if they were to touch or inhale that.
“We would categorize both of these production locations as a super lab … it’s a drug factory.”
York regional police released video and photos showing officers in Hazmat suit carefully taking the labs apart.
Eight people have been charged and an arrest warrant has been issued for an outstanding suspect.
Van Truong Do, 34, of Toronto, (pictured below) is being sought on the following charges:
- Production of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamine)
- Proceeds of Crime
- Possession of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamine)
- Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Methamphetamine)
- Money Laundering
- Mischief Over $5,000 x4