No bail for fentanyl charges

A man accused of producing fake prescription pills with fentanyl will remain in jail after he was denied bail Tuesday.

Leslie John McCulloch, 38, was arrested after police raided his home and his business in an industrial area on Auburn Road in West Kelowna on March 2, 2016.

Dan Minkley, an RCMP officer at the scene of the Auburn Road bust, said they believed the building was being used to press fake prescription pills that actually contained fentanyl.

Minkley said they had been investigating the property for several months.

McCulloch was charged with production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking, while his 27-year-old girlfriend, Rebekka Rae White, also faces the same charges.

Police believe McCulloch was importing fentanyl from China to produce fake Percocet and Oxycontin.

The bust came amidst a growing fentanyl epidemic in the Okanagan and throughout B.C. Just last week, a Kamloops man died in Kelowna after using cocaine suspected to have been laced with fentanyl.

McCulloch is no stranger to drug-related run-ins with the law.

At the time of his arrest, McCulloch was out on parole for a 4.5-year sentence for trafficking cocaine. He was described in his parole documents as a “middleman who transported drugs for the Hell's Angels,” and was motivated by the “allure of easy money.”

He was granted full parole in July of 2014, as he was a low risk for violent offending. He was ordered not to associate with any members of the Hell's Angels while out on parole.

In August, 2015, the parole board was made aware of McCulloch's new girlfriend, presumably White, and assessed her in accordance with his parole conditions. Documents state there were “concerns noted in the assessment.”

In October 2015, McCulloch's parole was suspended after he was observed with someone believed to be a member of the Hell's Angels.

McCulloch told the parole board the man had shown up at his auto body shop unexpectedly, and gave him a “no good” designation within the Hell's Angels organization.

“You stated ... that you were very scared of him,” the parole documents say. “You described him as a frightening person and that he was a high-ranking Hell's Angel from a chapter in Alberta.”

Police confirmed McCulloch's version of the events as “plausible” and he was allowed back out on parole on Nov. 3, 2015.

Just over four months later, he was arrested in the fentanyl raid, where police seized a large amount of cash, about 800 fake prescription pills and several gold bars at McCulloch's house. They also seized 500 fake pills, over eight kilograms of suspected fentanyl powder and two industrial pill presses at his auto body shop on Auburn Road.

McCulloch's parole was officially revoked in May 2016.

According to the parole documents, McCulloch told the parole board he had rented a portion of his business to two people he had believed were manufacturing something legal.

McCulloch has submitted an appeal of his parole revocation, but his appeal has yet to be decided upon.

“You argue that police illegally entered your home and business and found money and cash and pill-making equipment,” his appeal document states. “You submit that there are legal explanations for these items and that the police jumped to conclusions by calling it a fentanyl lab.”

McCulloch and his girlfriend, White, will appear in court next on Oct. 18, where McCulloch will tell the court how he is pleading to his charges.  

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