Amidst a number of fatal fentanyl related drug overdoses, and warnings from health officials, a BC couple accused of trafficking fentanyl pills pleaded not guilty to a string of charges in Vancouver Provincial court today.
Lawyer Jordan Allingham says his client, Walter McCormick, along with his common law spouse, Karen Armitstead, will appear again on August 20th to set a date for trial.
McCormick is facing 22 charges, including multiple counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
The pair is among five people busted last year in an operation called “project tainted” involving Vancouver Police and other departments.
The operation aimed to disrupt the supply of fentanyl-laced drugs in Metro Vancouver.
Allingham says five weeks will be set aside for trial.
“The addition of fentanyl into already dangerous street drugs is a relatively new trend, which has exposed the inconsistent and callous production processes within the criminal drug trade,” said VPD Superintendent Mike Porteous at the time.
“The swath of devastation and death that’s been left in the wake of fentanyl-laced drugs is unprecedented for local health authorities and police.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid or painkiller similar to heroin, but 50 to 100 times more toxic than other narcotics.
Police say it was associated with one-quarter of over 300 overdose deaths in BC in 2014.
Users had either knowingly or unknowingly consumed fentanyl that was mixed with a variety of other drugs.