Calgary cops give educational presentation to Calgary Police Commission

The recent deaths in Calgary and surrounding area that have been linked to the drug para-methoxymethamphetamine, commonly known as PMMA, were the outstanding topic at the Calgary Police Commission meeting on Jan. 31.

 Although the discussion about the drug and the deaths linked to it was prominent at the meeting, the one part that stood out were the photos of the laboratories where these drugs are being manufactured.

The photos, taken in a drug lab in Richmond, B.C., showed filthy conditions in what appeared to be a basement or garage. Everything from the floors, to the equipment, to the walls shown in the photos, was covered in either dust, or some kind of powder.

Staff Sgt. Mike Bossley gave the presentation and explained that the photos were of a methylenedioxymethamphetamine lab, the street drug known as MDMA or ecstasy, but that a PMMA lab would function in a similar manner with the same equipment.This photo of MDMA lab in Richmond, B.C. shows a food processor that is used to color ecstasy (MDMA).
Photo courtesy of: the RCMP

“You can see that it’s quite unhygienic as far as how it’s made,” Bossley said. “It’s all kinds of different chemicals just mixed together to make MDMA or PMMA.

“This is a chemistry experiment, really, when they put these things together.”

Bossley showed photos of different kinds of filthy pots and burners, as well as pill presses where the powder is molded into the colourful pills. The photos that followed showed that the pink, blue, yellow and other multicolored pills — which are dyed with food coloring — were in strong contrast to the dirt equipment that was used to make them.

The photos of the lab flashed on the projection screen in the dark meeting room, with Bossley explaining the images as he continued his presentation. Each member of the police commission watched the presentation unmoving, seemingly with great interest.

Perhaps the most alarming part of Bossley’s presentation, in addition to the dirty condition of the lab, was when he mentioned that the same equipment in the B.C. lab could be used to mix different kinds of drugs together as well. He explained that all kinds of powder-form drugs could be mixed together into one powder and sold.

“What we’re seeing is the powder with the MDMA, mixed with PMMA, which is a very dangerous form of ecstasy, as well as with cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine,” he said. “They’re blended and sold together.

“The reason they do that is to increase or change the high for the user. The mixture of all of these chemicals is not like a prescription drug, so it becomes quite a dangerous situation for the user as there are no controls over how much of each component is put in.”

Deputy Chief Murray Stooke said that the general message to be public is to “stay safe, and be safe.”

“Do not take any powder or capsules that are associated with PMMA or ecstasy at all,” he said. “They are easily converted to pill form.

“We believe that the people who are trafficking this drug, because it’s a cash business, that they’re going to want to sell it and recoup what money they’ve invested in it. The safest bet is to not take it.”

Steve Edwards, police commission vice chair, closed the discussion at the meeting by saying, “It’s disturbing that they make those look so harmless and attractive.”

“It’s very dangerous, and the public needs to be very, very cautious.”

afaulkner@cjournal.ca