West Kelowna  

Guilty in fentanyl bust

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m.

One of two people charged in a major fentanyl bust in West Kelowna last March pleaded guilty Wednesday, but has been released on bail until his sentencing.

Police raided the commercial business of 38-year-old Leslie John McCulloch on Auburn Road on March 2, along with his home. They found more than 1,300 fake prescription pills, several gold bars, two industrial pill presses and over eight kilograms of what police suspected was fentanyl.

While McCulloch was initially charged with possession and production of fentanyl, his charges were slightly altered in court Wednesday, as the powder found in the commercial building turned out to be acetylfentanyl, an analogue of fentanyl.

The American Drug Enforcement Agency describes acetylfentanyl as “similar to fentanyl,” and says it has been linked to a number of overdose deaths. Acetylfentanyl still falls under the Canadian controlled drugs and substances act.

McCulloch, who has been in custody since his arrest in March, was granted bail following his plea Wednesday, to allow for him “to get his affairs in order,” according to the Crown. He was previously denied bail in October. 

McCulloch will be released to a home in Abbotsford on a $15,000 cash bail, under electronic monitoring. He will be allowed to leave his home between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and will also be able to come to West Kelowna to get his belongings from his commercial business and his home.

When McCulloch was arrested in March, he was on parole, following a 4.5-year sentence for trafficking cocaine.

Parole documents described him as a “middleman who transported drugs for the Hell's Angels,” and described him as motivated by the “allure of easy money.”

One of the McCulloch's current bail conditions is to avoid contact with any person involved in criminal activity or a criminal organization, including “outlaw motorcycle organizations.”

McCulloch's girlfriend, Rebekka White, was also charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, production of a controlled substance and two counts of possession following the raid. She will next appear in court on May 23.

Over the next two months, a presentence report will be put together for McCulloch, to help the judge with sentencing.

A fentanyl dealer in Vancouver, who grew up in Kelowna, was recently given a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to trafficking and drug possession.

Fentanyl has played a large part in the recent overdose crisis in B.C. In 2016, 914 people died from illicit drug overdoses, up 80 per cent from 2015. Of those 916, 48 were from Kelowna.  

ORIGINAL: 11:40 a.m.

One of two people charged in connection with a major fentanyl bust in West Kelowna has pleaded guilty.

Leslie John McCulloch, 38, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Kelowna courtroom to possession for the purpose of trafficking and production of an analogue of fentanyl.

He has been released on $15,000 bail, as a pre-sentence report is prepared.

Rebekka Rae White, 27, has also been charged after police raided a West Kelowna warehouse on Auburn Road on March 2.

Dozens of police, along with paramedics and firefighters, raided the warehouse.

At that time, officer Dan Minkley said they had executed a warrant on the property in conjunction with a second warrant at a rural property in West Kelowna.

Police said the building was being used to make counterfeit prescription pills that contained fentanyl, the drug linked to an overdose crisis in B.C. and throughout Canada.

– with files from Nicholas Johansen

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