Pubdate: Wed, 20 Nov 2002
Source: Goldstream Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Goldstream Gazette
Author: Rick Stiebel


The West Shore RCMP are alarmed by a significant increase in cocaine use by 
teenagers on the West Shore.

"In the last two months, I've received many calls from parents concerned 
that their kids are addicted," said Cpl. Brian Kerr of the West Shore RCMP 
street crime unit. "We're seeing more problems typical of big cities as the 
community continues to grow, and we have to be prepared for this."

Kerr said the recent arrest of a street-level dealer led to the seizure of 
a significant amount of cocaine and methamphetamine.

Kerr said he's seen an increased demand for coke and methamphetamine on the 
West Shore, and the age of users is getting younger. Belmont Secondary 
School vice-principal Dave Felker said students have told him that there 
has been someone trying to sell cocaine near the school.

"We are monitoring the situation closely," Felker said. "We've seen an 
influx of drugs into the community. There's probably an element of every 
kind of drug. I haven't seen a significant increase. A very very small 
number of kids are involved."

Felker said he hasn't seen any evidence of cocaine use at the school.

He said it's more likely that kids are looking for drugs for the weekend.

Felker said the problem may be less at Belmont than at other schools, 
following the marijuana arrests the RCMP made at the school last year.

Const. Raj Sandhu, of the West Shore street-crime unit said follow-up 
investigations revealed that there is a major increase in the amount of 
cocaine being sold on the West Shore.

"We identified numerous people involved," Sandhu said. "We were surprised 
by the number of people. It was evident within a couple of hours that this 
dealer had been very busy," Sandhu said.

Kerr said the arrests, ranging from a 14-year-old female high school 
student to a mother of three young children is a clear indication to him 
that the drug problem with teenagers is no longer limited to marijuana.

He said the cost and highly addictive nature of cocaine concerns him deeply 
because addicts turn to crimes like car thefts, break and enters and credit 
card scams to feed their habit.

"It's an expensive habit. The last two major recoveries of stolen property 
on the West Shore can be directly attributed to the suspects' cocaine use," 
Kerr said.

"We need to have the resources in place to deal with this," Sandhu said.

Both officers said they were cognizant of the need for counseling and 
addiction treatment.

Anyone with concerns about this problem should contact Kerr or Sandhu at 

"We want to help, and will guarantee confidentiality," Kerr said.

If you would like more information on recognizing some of the symptoms of 
cocaine addiction, visit the Web site
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