Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jan 2014
Source: Bradford Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Bradford Times
Author: Miriam King


Crack cocaine. Powder cocaine. Oxycodone. Methamphetamines.

South Simcoe has seen a rise in drug culture and use over the past 5
years. South Simcoe Police Constable Kai Johnston, a member of the
Drug and Street Crimes Unit, described the trends, at the January 20
Bradford West Gwillimbury-Innisfil Police Services Board Meeting.

"Our major drug in South Simcoe is cocaine," PC Johnston said - both
powder and "Crack", cocaine in crystal form, which can be smoked. But
Oxycodone is a close second, and may pose an even greater human health

Cocaine, Johnston noted, is mentally but not physically addictive.
Oxycodone, sold as Percocet, Oxycocet or OxyContin, is an opioid that
is both mentally and physically addictive. It's also relatively cheap,
and readily available - one of the most prescribed pain medications,
despite its addictive qualities.

And there's a new threat on the horizon: Methamphetamines.

When South Simcoe police responded to a vehicle in a ditch, on 5
Sideroad at the 5th Line of Innisfil in November 2012, they discovered
not only a stolen vehicle, but one that had been transformed into a
mobile Meth lab.

The vehicle was filled with bags of chemicals - "all legal, all
readily available" at any hardware store, Johnston said, including
acetone, bath salts, and over-the-counter medications containing
ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

It took a while before South Simcoe Police realized what they had
found: a "one-pot method shake-and-bake lab," Johnston said, used to
make Crystal Meth - the first such lab found in Ontario. "We don't see
a lot of it. It's starting to invade York - it's coming this way, make
no mistake."

The highly toxic chemicals, the highly flammable nature of the
materials and the process, create a hazard for local communities.
"There's been one in Hamilton, in Wingham.... It blew up, and caused a
big fire," Johnston said. The air is toxic, the chemicals flammable -
"This is a real problem for us."

The South Simcoe Police Service doesn't have the equipment to deal
with the danger, so local police call in the OPP or York Regional
Police. "South Simcoe doesn't have that equipment, but we have

What about marijuana? Grow Ops used to be a key target of enforcement,
but in recent years Police have drawn back, due to the proliferation
of "Medical Marijuana" and the licensing of home grow ops, by

"There's a serious abuse of it," PC Johnston said, noting that one
doctor alone has been responsible for writing over 7,000 prescriptions
for medical marijuana. And although licensed grow operations are
supposed to be inspected, "There's never been a grow op inspected in
Canada, that we know of."

That's all set to end this July, when a new system will put an end to
licensed home grow operations, and require users to purchase medical
marijuana from major distributors.

Until then, police can only watch from the sidelines, concerned about
problems that could include "the molds, the mildews, the by-passes (of
the electricity meters), the heat, the hydro" - and the security.

"There is none. This is in people's houses," Johnston said, with most
of the licensed grow ops located in residential areas. The result has
been a number of home invasions, and violence. "It happens."

Police rely on information provided from the community, surveillance,
search warrants, undercover operations and intelligence, to meet the
drug problem head on. In recent years, they conducted Project Full
Moon, which broke a street crime ring dealing in drugs and stolen
property, operating out of Timmy D's bar in Bradford. There have been
23 arrests, and 18 convictions resulting from the undercover operation.

And Project Talon, which focussed on street-level drug use, led to 18
arrests - and so far, 12 convictions, with 2 cases still before the

The drug problem is not one that is going away any time soon. Rather,
there are new challenges and new threats that require police to
maintain their vigilance, keep up with the trends and work with
neighbouring police services.  
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