Pubdate: Wed, 17 Mar 2004
Source: Prince Rupert Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Sterling Newspapers Ltd.
Author: James Vassallo


A bust of the area's first methamphetamine drug lab in Terrace could be a 
sign of things to come for northern communities including Prince Rupert.

"People don't just wake up one day and decide to use methamphetamines," 
said Cpl. Mike Tivers, non-commissioned officer in charge of the general 
investigative and drug sections for the Terrace RCMP. "Over time it grows 
to a certain percentage of the populace."

The drug section NCO said that it would be difficult to determine where the 
drugs were going specifically, but he would not be surprised if they found 
their way to Kitimat, Smithers, the Queen Charlottes or Prince Rupert.

"I would venture to say it's a supply for part of the area," said Tivers of 
the several hundred grams of meth seized from an address on Lazelle Avenue 
after a house fire.

Police were alerted to the clandestine laboratory or "clan lab" after 
firefighters extinguished the fire and found large amounts of glassware and 

One of the problems facing RCMP in dealing with the issue is that few 
seizures of the drug have been made and information about clandestine drug 
activity in general is at a minimum.

"Generally this is a drug used by young people," said Tivers. "They're 
quite reluctant to talk to us about it."

However, the effects on a community can be devastating.

"Generally when meth is out in the community, the property crime has a 
significant jump," he said. "It can be a significant factor [in increased 

Tivers also remarked that the cooking process involved in making the drug 
leaves behind a potentially lethal gas.

"It's similar to what was used in Zyclon B by the Nazi's," he said.

The human costs can also be staggering, he said.

"A high percentage of people when they take it are hooked," said Tivers. 
"There's many documented instances where women have neglected their 
children, they don't need to eat so they don't feed their kids. I can't 
think of an uglier drug."

This week the B.C. Coroner's Service also released a report bringing to 
light the growing problem of methamphetamine-related deaths.

The report stated that while there was only two meth-related deaths in 
2000, there were four in 2001, seven in 2002, 12 last year and already six 
in the first three months of 2004.

"The problems go in an exponential fashion," he said, "assaults, property 
crime, you name it. If the numbers persist you'll get about 30 deaths this 

Last week RCMP held a town hall meeting in Terrace to discuss the use of 
methamphetamines and the effect it can have on the community. Staff 
Sergeant Chuck Doucet, Vancouver Drug Awareness Services, discussed the 
fact that the propagation of drugs in a community can lead to an increase 
in crime as well as an increase in the severity of crimes that are being 

Despite only two days notice, nearly 250 people showed up to the meeting.

"The police can't do it all," said Tivers. "We need the public to be out 
there. They have to take ownership of this problem."

And the problem is only getting worse, he said.

"A few years ago you could have counted [the labs] on the fingers of one 
hand. If we found one from a fire there's another three or four out there."

In 2003, police clandestine lab teams in California busted some 788 
methamphetamine producing facilities. Similarly, Washington State has seen 
an increase from a few lab busts ten years ago to several hundred a year, 
said Tivers.

The proliferation of the drug is due in part to the ease with which 
non-technical or scientific individuals can produce the drug, with 
information being readily available on the internet.

"They tell you how you can do it," he said. "If you go on the internet and 
type ?making meth' you'll get like 28,000 hits. We found this same 
information at the [meth lab] house."

Suggested items to use in the production of methamphetamine include engine 
starting fluid, toilet cleaning products, lye and Muriatic acid, a highly 
corrosive substance that can cause serious injury if it comes into contact 
with the eyes or skin.

"There's nothing natural about methamphetamine," Tivers said. "Most of the 
chemicals are carcinogenic or toxic."

The drug can be produced in under 15 steps and is then smoked, injected or 
snorted. On the street it has a value of almost $140 a gram. A price markup 
of three to four times its production cost also makes it attractive to 
criminal elements.

"It's such a deadly a substance for the users, the people producing it and 
the community," he said. "Methamphetamine potentially has an impact on 

That's why it's so scary."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart