Pubdate: Wed, 13 Feb 2008
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Daniel Pearce


Whereabouts Of One Drug Kingpin Is Unknown

The final cases resulting from a major drug sweep that helped clean up
downtown Simcoe are headed to court.

Trials have been scheduled for Sherry Lee Maas and Kelvin Cunningham,
who face charges of trafficking.

The pair are two of 40 people arrested following an undercover sting
in which a male and a female police officer posed as small-time drug
dealers looking to make buys.

They kept track of who had sold them drugs -- mainly Simcoe residents
police later picked up in a massive takedown one day in September 2006.

Federal prosecutor Jamie Pereira said the sweep, dubbed operation Big
Mac, was successful given almost all of the charges have led to guilty

Sentences have ranged from a few weeks behind bars to penitentiary

Michael Gustin, one of two kingpins of the downtown drug scene, got
three years in prison while the other, Kenneth Morris, jumped bail
before he was sentenced.

"We don't know where he is," said Pereira.

When Morris is put behind bars, it will put an end to a chapter in the
story of Simcoe's core.

As the state of downtown declined, it reached a low in 2005. Empty
stores, vandalism, and open drug dealing were the norm. Things
culminated with a drug-related shooting on Norfolk Street South that

Police responded with a street team, increased patrols, and the
undercover operation.

"I like to think it's getting better," Pereira said of the state of
downtown. "Obviously, there's still a problem there."

Incoming Norfolk OPP Superintendent Zvonko Horvat said police will
continue to keep an eye on what's going on in the core.

"We haven't eliminated all the drug activities in the downtown core,
but we have put a dent into it," Horvat said.

He described the dealers arrested as being "street-level to
mid-level." But Big Mac, he added, also directly led to arrests of
dealers in Hamilton and Dunnville.

Police consider drugs a serious social problem, Horvat

"You look at the root cause of any problem and it comes back to drugs.
Drug activity has a significant impact on the quality of life for everybody."

Many of the dealers picked up in the sweep were "selling just to
support their habit," Pereira said.

One woman who was sentenced to weekends in jail told the undercover
cops rumours were rampant they were police but she didn't believe that
and would sell to them anytime.

Others were in it for profit, Pereira said.

"Individuals can make a lot of money. It's tax-free. But at some
point, they all get caught."
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