Police show one of the three large packages of methylone that was intercepted by border agents on its way from China to West Kelowna.
Senior representatives of the RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency flew to Kelowna on Thursday to reveal the 16 kilograms of methylone arrived by mail from China in August. The seizure is the largest of its kind in B.C. and the biggest in Canada in two years.
"This large quantity of this very dangerous drug did not make it on the streets of this country," said Sgt. Peter Thiessen, federal spokesman for the RCMP in B.C.
"This is a new amphetamine - a new type of drug that appears to be making its way into Canada. There's been some examples of it to the east. Now we're starting to see it in B.C. That becomes a big concern."
One parcel arrived at the CBSA's international mail centre in Vancouver Aug. 23 and two more on Aug. 26. Each weighed more than five kg and declared the contents as table salt. All three were sent from China and addressed to a business in West Kelowna.
Border officers X-rayed the contents and noticed large amounts of powder. Suspicious, they opened them and found a light-brown crystal substance wrapped in plastic and sealed in foil pouches.
"It didn't look like or smell like sodium chloride. So they persisted with the field test and subsequently the lab tests which confirmed their instincts," said Heather Ardiel, chief of the mail centre.
A lab test confirmed the powder as an amphetamine called methylone, an illegal drug that looks
like salt and can be extremely dangerous, said Thiessen.
Bath salts are common in the U.K. and the U.S. Police have recovered small amounts in the Atlantic provinces and Ontario, but seldom in Western Canada.
The two women were arrested Sept. 19. RCMP are withholding their ages and names until they're formally charged. Thiessen wouldn't say how investigators singled them out.
Police often repackage contraband once border agents discover it and allow its delivery so officers can make an arrest. Thiessen would only say officers have "many different strategies" in this type of investigation.
If undetected, the bath salts could have been sold in the Central Okanagan, across B.C. and Canada. Like other synthetic drugs, they can comprise a lethal combination of stimulants and other drugs or toxins. They're highly addictive and users can easily overdose, Thiessen said.
Young people ages 15 to 20 are the most vulnerable because they tend to experiment with new drugs. They can snort, smoke or inject bath salts. A user's heart rate may spike. Chest pains and high blood pressure are typical. They can become paranoid or psychotic to the point they hallucinate or get violent, said Thiessen.
Most amphetamines intercepted in Canada originate in China, said Ardiel. The CBSA seized 149 shipments of amphetamines in 2012, 52 of them in Vancouver, Ardiel said.
To learn more about synthetic drugs, visit drugawareness.bc.rcmp.ca.