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Mission man charged after West Vancouver drug lab fire

The province’s civil forfeiture office is seeking to seize the $4.3-million property as well.
A fire damaged home on West Vancouver’s Crestwell Road sits boarded up, Mach 13, 2023. One man has been charged with running a drug lab out of the house and the province is seeking to seize the property. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

A year after fire damaged a home in the British Properties, a Mission man has been charged with running a clandestine drug lab out of the site.

West Vancouver Fire & Rescue and police responded to the home on the 1300 block of Crestwell Road in the early morning of March 7, 2022.

Soon after, investigators announced they had discovered evidence of an illegal drug lab operating inside. Police arrested a Mission man at the home and he was released pending a future court appearance.

The Crown has now sworn 11 charges against Gerald Terrance Yaremchuk, including eight counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, two counts of unlawfully possessing precursor chemicals and equipment needed for drug production, and one count of production of a controlled substance.

Documents filed in North Vancouver provincial court allege the lab inside the home was being used to produce methamphetamines and MDMA, while other drugs like ketamine, Benzylpiperazine and TFMPP were found there.

Yaremchuk has not yet entered pleas on any of the charges. He is due in court on April. 5.

West Vancouver property may be seized

B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture, meanwhile, has filed a separate civil suit, seeking to seize the British Properties home as the proceeds or instruments of crime.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the civil forfeiture office identifies the registered owner as Shuangfeng Deng.

Deng has a mailing address in Nanchang, China, as well as business in B.C. – Brother Deng Development Ltd, which is registered at a chartered accounting firm in Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood, court documents show. Reached for comment, staff at the firm said they would pass the request along to their client.

According to the court documents, Deng purchased the property in 2012 for $3.16 million with “no known financing.”

“For some or all of the time between Oct. 29, 2012 and March 7, 2022, on an ongoing and repetitive basis, the property was used as an illegal marijuana grow operation and/or a lab for the production of illicit methamphetamine, including methamphetamine hydrochloride and/or methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (“MDMA”),” the claim states.

The March 2022 fire was caused by the volatile chemicals associated with the production of MDMA, the claim asserts, specifically referring to a large propane burner with a metal pot on top as the source.

Inside the house, investigators found 16 kilograms of illegal drugs, the claim continues, along with grow lights, ventilation and plastic sheets installed in the basement, soil and plant pots, industrial fertilizer hoppers, chemicals, hoses and other equipment.

“Mr, Deng was aware, or was willfully blind to the fact that the property was being used for illicit drug production as described herein,” the claim states. “If the property is not forfeited, it could be repaired or reconstructed to allow illicit drug production to occur in the future.”

Deng has not yet filed a response to the civil claim, and none of the allegations have been heard in court.

The property, which includes a six-bedroom, three-bathroom home built in 1974, was last assessed at $4.36 million.

The property has been cordoned off by construction fencing since the days after the fire.

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