An Edmonton common-law couple is facing drug-related charges seizing chemicals that investigators say could produce 38 million fentanyl pills.

The investigation by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams called Project Alchemy began in October 2015 when Canada Border Services Agency intercepted four barrels at the Edmonton International Airport.

The barrels contained 100 kilograms of a powder called NPP that is used to make fentanyl.

ALERT conducted two searches on December 9, 2015 at an Edmonton home and a fentanyl lab in Leduc and found four kilograms of W-18 powder and 3,200 fentanyl pills containing W-18 powder.

The nine-month investigation concluded July 6 with the arrests of 41-year-old Dean Clayton Abbott and 32-year-old Shavon Carlene Wenger. The two have been jointly charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm without a license, and other weapon related charges, ALERT said.

Abbott also faces additional charges of two counts for the purpose of trafficking, four counts of possession of proceeds of crime, and possession of stolen property.

“Clearly, this is an enormous public safety concern,” an ALERT official said. “Fentanyl has taken far too many lives across the province, and across the country.

With files from Susan Amerongen.