Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jan 2004
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Esquimalt News
Author: Rick Stiebel
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


"Jib, gak, jab, shard, tweak, Tina, Chrissy, ice, crank, kiddy-crack"
or "speed."

Whatever name it's going by this week, crystal methamphetamine use is
growing at an alarming rate across the region. Victoria police Sgt.
John Bond, who heads the city's strike force unit, says crystal meth
has become far more prevalent in the last year.

"We're seeing more and more in Victoria and Esquimalt," says Bond, who
notes one of the mandates of the strike force is taking responsibility
for drug-related files. He says crystal meth is showing up more
frequently in undercover purchases and during the execution of search

He says many of the cases they've worked on involve teenagers and
people in their early 20s.

"The meth trade is closely associated with stolen property, commercial
and residential property crime," Bond says.

He says while most of the cases involve meth brought over from the
Mainland, some intelligence reports indicate there is a lab producing
crystal meth on the Island at an unknown location.

"The strike force is working closely with the West Shore RCMP and
other agencies," Bond says. "We're exchanging information and taking
part in collective surveillance to deal with the problem."

Bond recommends that anyone who is thinking of trying meth should go
to the Internet and research the effects.

"I can't stress enough how dangerous it is," Bond says.

It is highly addictive, with users increasing the dosage with regular
use in an effort to maintain or surpass the previous high.

The feelings of endless energy, wakefulness and tolerance to pain are
replaced by anxiety, depression and confusion when the drug wears off.

"We weren't hearing about it a year ago," says Cpl. Brian Kerr of the
West Shore RCMP street crime unit. "Now we're hearing about it on a
weekly, sometimes daily basis."

Kerr says crystal meth appeals to youths because it is relatively
cheap compared with cocaine, and the high lasts longer, in some cases
up to 12 hours or longer. "We're seeing $10 packets for sale," Kerr

Crystal meth is usually snorted, smoked in a pipe or injected because
of the rush those methods produce, but it is also taken orally.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse,
methamphetamines release high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine,
which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement.

It also appears to have a neurotoxic effect, damaging brain cells that
contain dopamine and serotonin, which is another neurotransmitter.

Continued use appears to cause reduced levels of dopamine, which can
cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, severe movement
disorder, memory loss and loss of motor skills.

Kerr predicts more addict-related crime such as break and enters and
thefts from vehicles by users trying to feed their habits.

"I'm concerned not only as a police officer, but as a parent," Kerr
says. "I have kids in the school system."

Kerr says he fielded three or four calls in November alone from
parents concerned about their kids' erratic behaviour.

West Shore RCMP Const. Larry Jacobs, who recently returned from a drug
awareness course, was in on several crystal meth lab investigations
when he was working in the Lower Mainland.

"The labs don't have to be sophisticated," he says. "They're really
easy to set up, and the chemicals used are all easily

Jacobs says people who have labs don't care how they dispose of the

A list of chemicals that can be used to produce crystal meth reads
like a Who's Who of hazardous materials: alcohol, paint thinner,
freon, camp stove fuel, iodine, acetone, fire starter, anti-freeze,
sulphuric acid, lye, drain cleaner and phosphorous from match heads.

According to data compiled by the RCMP, the production of one pound of
crystal meth creates five to six pounds of toxic waste.

"I saw a lab on the Mainland where they just dumped the chemicals in
the yard," Jacobs says. "They soaked through the soil and contaminated
a stream." The labs pose considerable risk for police once they've
been busted.

"Taking down a lab is very risky," he says.

Jacobs says, in addition to the environmental risks, the labs pose
significant danger because they have a propensity to catch fire or
blow up, especially if those working in them are careless or under the
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin