June 23rd, 2024

Meth, opioids continue to be No.1 focus

By Peggy Revell on June 30, 2018.


prevell@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNprevell

Methamphetamine seizures by local police continue to grow, reflecting both the increased amount of the drug on the street and an “aggressive enforcement response” by police.

“Obviously we’re seeing a marked increase in methamphetamine on the street,” said MHPSStaff Sgt. Cory Both. “That’s our No. 1 community harm risk: Methamphetamine. But we’re also seeing a rise in opioids.”

According to the MHPS’s annual general report released last week, the amount of meth seized by police has increased by 942 per cent since 2015.

In 2015, 369 grams of meth were seized, while 1,474 grams was seized in 2016 and 3,846 in 2017.

Cocaine seized has gone down from 2,674 grams in 2016 to 1,121 grams in 2017 — but cocaine hasn’t gone away, Both stressed.

“The focus has been off cocaine, and more on the drugs that cause the greatest community harm risk,” he said. “Our focus has been more on the methamphetamine primarily and more of the opioids.”

Opioids are the greater harm to the community due to risk of overdosing and death, said Both, while methamphetamine is a community harm problem due to the collateral damage it does.

“The users of methamphetamine tend to commit crimes to support their habit,” said Both. This includes property crime, break and enters, robberies and violent offences.

“They’re just more paranoid and volatile, and their crime tends to be more brazen and dangerous.”

Fentanyl

In 2015, 615 grams of fentanyl were seized, while 30 grams were seized in 2016 and 96 grams in 2017.

Eight grams of heroin were seized in 2015, while 53 grams were seized in 2016 and 51 grams in 2017.

All the heroin seized in 2016 and 2017 by police tested positive for containing fentanyl.

“It’s not surprising,” said Both. While heroin is the more traditional opioid, fentanyl is “a lot more cost effective” so has been cut in to heroin, to the point where heroin is mostly fentanyl.

The bulk of drug users know they’re getting fentanyl, not heroin, Both said. “They’re not even bothering calling it heroin anymore.”

Carfentanil remains a concern, said Both, with 2017 marking a case where a man was sentenced to more than five years for trafficking drugs, which turned out to contain the deadly opioid considered 100 times more toxic than fentanyl.

Firearms

According to the report, 27 firearms were seized as a result of drug and/or organized crime investigations in 2017.

It’s an increase from the previous two years, while there was an 80 per cent increase of the number of firearms seized by MHPS as a whole.

“It’s obviously concerning,” said Both, as the firearms are in the hands of people using meth who are more unpredictable and volatile.

“Gun seizures are proportionate to the meth increase, and we’re finding them in the hands of the people involved in the meth culture across the board, from the end user to the dealer.

These firearms are mainly stolen through break and enters and thefts, said Both, and then bought and sold on the black market.

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