Pubdate: Fri, 07 Oct 2005
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Alexandra Paul


But two men under arrest pending trafficking charges

WINNIPEG authorities evacuated an apartment building within sight of the
Legislative Building yesterday in an investigation of one of two suspected
meth labs.

Both incidents turned out to be false alarms but that didn't stop
authorities from taking elaborate precautions.

At the downtown site, an apartment block of 39 suites at 177 Colony St. was
evacuated, a city bus was moved on site for tenants to stay warm and a
hazardous materials decontamination lab was set up in a portable trailer
outside the block for most of yesterday.

Tenants reported yesterday they had smelled suspicious odours like burning
rubber in the hallways before a fire alarm brought Winnipeg firefighters to
the scene around 11 a.m.

By mid-afternoon, after hours of preparation, four RCMP drug officers in
protective hazardous materials suits and wearing oxygen masks and tanks on
their backs entered the third-floor apartment where the smells had been

Just minutes later, the officers came out again. Police spokesman Kelly
Dennison said that despite signs suggesting methamphetamine was being cooked
in the suite, police had come up empty-handed.

But two male tenants of the apartment were in custody pending charges of
possession of crystal meth for the purpose of trafficking, Dennison said.

Meanwhile, a similar incident unfolded in the 300 block of Polson Avenue
near the intersection of Salter Street.

Undercover officers surrounded a two-and-a-half-storey house, members of the
drug unit donned protective suits and went in through the front door, and
firefighters stood ready with a hose.

But just minutes later the officers exited the house shaking their heads,
and police and emergency crews left the scene.

The incidents yesterday show methamphetamine labs, where drug dealers use
over-the-counter chemicals to make crystal meth, are a growing concern for
police, Dennison said. Manufacturing the highly addictive street drug is
considered dangerous because fumes associated with cooking meth are
combustible and can explode with the force of a bomb.

"Meth is a growing problem, and the labs designed to make meth are a hazard
to people who are living there and to police and fire (crews). That's why
you see all these resources here," Dennison said.
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