Man jailed for role in setting up meth lab on farm
Court hears oilpatch worker planned to sell drugs to recoup losses from fraud
The victim of a sizable fraud, a 38-year-old Regina man found what he thought was a way to recoup his losses.
It entailed the establishment of a $1-million meth lab on a Saskatchewan farm.
On Friday, Bradley Wesley Oxby landed a jail sentence for his role in the offence, pleading guilty to a production charge under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Defence lawyer Dave Armstrong acknowledged the sentence of two years less a day — less credit for time served — is on the low end of the range, but said it reflects his client’s guilty plea.
Armstrong said Oxby was working in the oilpatch when he cashed out a large chunk of his savings to invest in an oilfield opportunity presented to him by a man he knew. Armstrong said the supposed opportunity turned out to be a fraud. The man responsible was eventually charged, but Oxby lost his money.
“He felt he was in dire straits when that money was essentially stolen from him,” Armstrong said.
Given the demand for methamphetamine among drug users, a second opportunity presented itself, and Oxby and another man decided they would set up their own lab.
During what proved to be an extensive investigation, the RCMP uncovered text messages between Oxby and his partner discussing how to go about establishing a lab. Oxby texted his partner to ask if he could get his hands on $1 million. The man said he could get it in a week.
Further texts discussed the purchase of a farm in the Strasbourg area, within the RM of Mckillop. Oxby was to meet with a realtor and see if the location would meet their needs.
It did, and the business partner — using a chunk of the $1.18 million he had secured from investors — doled out approximately $290,000 for its purchase.
The location secured, the next stop was Vancouver, where the men purchased the chemicals and equipment needed. The items were trucked back to Saskatchewan in U-haul vehicles.
With planning having started in the summer, the lab was assembled around Christmas of 2012.
The initial batch tanked, but the men — now working with a couple of others — were successful the second time around.
But the project soon unravelled when one of the men working with them started using the drug and came to the attention of the local RCMP.
The former owner of the farm threw another spanner in the works when he called police about unusual equipment he saw there.
The men quickly disassembled parts of the lab. Oxby’s business partner was forced to transfer some of the property to investors to cover his sizable debt, and the investors granted permission to the RCMP in May to search the property. Police reported finding a number of items consistent with a meth lab having been there.
RCMP estimated two to three kilograms of meth were produced during the time the lab was operational. Federal Crown prosecutor Lua Gibb told the court the drugs, if sold on the street at that time, would have brought in between $400,000 and $600,000.
While it took another 2½ years to make arrests, Oxby’s partner was on police radar in connection with a fraud alleged to have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. RCMP followed that man’s paper trail, and were eventually able to connect the dots to the lab, court heard.
Armstrong said his client has struggled with drugs at points in his life, although he had a 15-year period of sobriety before once again falling back into drug use. Armstrong added that his client wasn’t using the lab to feed an addiction, but rather for financial purposes.
Of the other men charged, one has since died. The others remain before the court.
A man was jailed for establishing a meth lab six years ago on this rural property near Strasbourg.
Investigators in HAZMAT suits search a former farm property near Strasbourg after being tipped off about a possible meth lab.