Pubdate: Fri, 10 Feb 2006
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The London Free Press
Author: Patrick Maloney
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


AYLMER -- Making crystal meth is as easy as baking cookies, say
officials at the Ontario Police College.

Identifying the homes where this dangerous practice is happening,
however, isn't nearly as simple. But a 1,200-square-foot house
unveiled yesterday at the police training facility is the province's
newest tool to help officers track down "clandestine" meth labs.

Though the house, built at the college for $130,000, looks normal from
the outside, its kitchen is teeming with the cold pills, contraptions
and chemicals needed to make the deadly -- and highly addictive --
street drug.

"We have obvious signs with a (marijuana) grow-op," John O'Reilly, the
college's drug programs co-ordinator, said. "Meth labs are harder to

This kitchen, he says, is what they look like from the inside:
Ground-up Sudafed pills in a blender, a scale, bottles of Drano and
beakers filled with other chemicals needed for the three-hour cooking

"This truly sets the scenario," said college director Rudy Gheysen.
"In the end, we will have better-trained police officers."

Anyone hired by an Ontario police force must train at the Aylmer
facility before starting the job. About 400 of the 1,000 new officers
promised by the provincial Liberals will have graduated by spring.

The house's bedrooms include three other simulations: A huge marijuana
grow-op, a smaller pot operation inside a closet and an ecstasy lab.

About $100,000 was spent on equipment for the trainees, including
full-body decontamination suits and about 50 oxygen tanks. The whole
project was bankrolled by a grant from the Community Safety and
Correctional Services Ministry.

Eventually, the house will also include all the potential dangers of a
typical meth or marijuana operation, said O'Reilly, including trip
wires and other traps. And there also are the potentially deadly tools
of the trade.

"(If) you come across a propane tank in these situations . . . you
treat those almost as a bomb," he said, adding the house "is a great
overall training facility.

"It's just to get (officers-in-training) to slow down, take a look at
their environment. They'll revert back to their training (on the job)."

Few provincial politicians have a better understanding of the dangers
posed by crystal meth than Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson, who
attended yesterday's event. His riding includes Perth County --
considered Ontario's meth capital.

To Wilkinson, the drug, so easy and inexpensive to make, will increase
its hold in Ontario and the college's new facility marks a step
forward in the battle against it.

"(Perth County) is where crime is trying to get a toehold," he said.
"The story is our community and the province is fighting back. You've
got to stop this before organized crime gets in."

Wilkinson works with, but isn't a member of, the Ontario government's
crystal meth task force.
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