Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2009
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Tony Spears, The Ottawa Citizen


Hawkesbury's mayor says her town isn't 'saturated' with drugs, and
says OPP ought to help with big policing bills by sending more
officers free of charge, Tony Spears writes.

Hawkesbury isn't "saturated" with methamphetamine, says the town's
mayor, who fears the impression police gave of Hawkesbury after a
series of drug-related arrests will increase the town's already big
policing bill.

"I'm not stupid, I know there are drugs here," said Jeanne Charlebois,
just over a week after Ontario Provincial Police arrested a number of
alleged drug dealers in the Eastern Ontario region. "There are drugs
in my town like there are drugs in everybody else's town."

After inviting reporters from across the region at the end of July,
police announced they'd seized 2,506 methamphetamine tablets and 183
oxycodone pills, in addition to smaller amounts of hash, marijuana,
cocaine, steroids and contraband tobacco. They charged 21 people with
148 criminal offences in the 11-month undercover operation, Project

Det. Insp. Bryan Martin said Hawkesbury is "saturated" with
methamphetamine, commonly known as speed.

"I don't doubt what (OPP) said at that press conference," Charlebois
said, but added that if Ontario's own police force is saying there's a
big problem in Hawkesbury, "well, then the Ontario Provincial Police
should send more policemen down here and not charge us for it."

She pointed to successful Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and Canada Day
celebrations as evidence that Hawkesbury is a "good town" with "good

Police are the town's second biggest expenditure, accounting for
almost one-fifth of the budget. The town spent $2.9 million on
policing in 2008. Costs are pegged at $3.2 million in the 2009 budget
and Charlebois said they will continue to rise.

Hawkesbury's location -- right on the Ottawa River, with a bridge
across to Quebec -- makes it an easy access point for Quebec-made
meth, said Det. Sgt. Paul Henry, unit commander of the OPP's
drug-enforcement section. Project Dover, operating only in Ontario,
did not uncover a single meth lab.

The operation stemmed from an increase in meth-related complaints from
the public, and police officers who noticed methamphetamine beginning
to replace marijuana and hash in drug seizures, Henry said. The OPP
began a mini-investigation codenamed "Speedway" to discover the extent
of the meth problem.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that can be ingested,
smoked, snorted or injected. Common effects include euphoria, teeth
grinding, restlessness and insomnia. Long-term use can alter brain
function and lead to psychoses, violent behaviour and dental problems.

The final tally for Project Dover rang in at less than $65,000, Henry

"It was very economical," Henry said, and it led police to "the
top-level dealers for the Hawkesbury area."

And some others. While some of the people the OPP charged out of
Project Dover face multiple counts of trafficking and possession of
property obtained by crime, the list of people includes one
21-year-old woman charged only with simple possession of
methamphetamine, another 21-year-old charged only with possession of
hashish, and a 26-year-old accused of giving marijuana to undercover
police for free.

The 26-year-old, Shannon McCullough, is charged with trafficking, but
she said she's never even tried meth and absolutely does not sell drugs.

The owner of Shannon's Pub in Hawkesbury -- site of one of
Charlebois's campaign stops as she ran for mayor -- said OPP officers
cuffed her and marched her out of the bar in front of her customers
the day before the big bust was announced.

She said her troubles started when two people came into her bar the
week before, looking for some marijuana to smoke at their cottage. She
said she gave them about 1.5 grams -- enough for 3 or 4 decent-sized

They turned out to be undercover officers, she said.

"They looked like stoners! I was just trying to be a nice person," she
said. "I don't sell drugs -- what the hell! I might smoke
occasionally, but I don't sell anything. I don't even know what meth
is. It's probably something they grow in a bathtub."

McCullough said she remembers kicking two of the arrested men out of
her bar for trying to deal cocaine and pills. "This is heavy. I didn't
do anything. I shouldn't be in the same league as these people," she
said. McCullough was released on a promise to appear in court, with
minimal conditions. She has a court date on Sept. 30. She is hiring a
lawyer, but hopes her trafficking charge will be dropped.

It is unclear why the undercover officers were asking her for
marijuana when police were ostensibly after methamphetamine. The OPP
would not comment on the specifics of her arrest or discuss methods
employed by their undercover agents.

Meanwhile, Charlebois is concentrating on drug prevention.

"We're working on prevention, we work with our police and I think
that's what we're going to continue doing." 
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