Man jailed for role in set­ting up meth lab on farm

Court hears oil­patch worker planned to sell drugs to re­coup losses from fraud

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - HEATHER POLIS­CHUK hpolis­chuk@post­media.com twit­ter.com/lpheatherp

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.

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