Waterloo Regional Police say they have made arrests in an investigation that focused on illegal opioids in the region.

In what they’re calling ‘Project Variance’, police say five people have been arrested and they’ve seized a substantial amount of drugs and property.

The investigation began in January, and led to search warrants executed at three residences, two trailers and an industrial storage unit.

Three men and a woman from Kitchener and one man from Cambridge were arrested and charged with various drug-related crimes.

Just under $500,000 worth of street drugs were seized, including:

  • 468g of fentanyl and carfentanil with an estimated street value of $140,000
  • 3kg of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $240,000
  • 830g of cocaine with an estimated street value of $83,000
  • 320g of marijuana with an estimated street value of $1,600
  • 285g of magic mushrooms with an estimated street value of $2,850

The WRPS also seized four vehicles, two motorcycles, two dirtbikes, and crime money in the sum of $234,000, which police say is the largest such seizure from a single investigation in the force's history.

“We’re in the midst of an opioid crisis in our community and throughout our region, and to stop it we need to focus on the manufacturers and the traffickers,” Chief Larkin said.

After 101 drug seizures in 2018, 28 have tested positive for carfentanil and 13 for fentanyl.

Overdose calls reached 767 in 2017, up from 189 in 2015. Fatalities have gone from 22 in 2015 to 85 in 2017, more than four times the number of people killed in road safety incidents.

Police say the investigation is ongoing, and that more arrests could follow.