Pubdate: Wed, 26 Oct 2016
Source: Goderich Signal-Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Goderich Signal-Star
Author: Darryl Coote
Page: 4


The popularity of cocaine with 18 to 25 year olds in Huron County is
growing, said Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Detective Constable Max
Miller of the Huron County Drug Office, Community Drug Action Team.

All street drugs are present in Huron Count y , but cocaine is
becoming more popular with this demographic because it is seen as a
party drug that has fewer negative side effects than methamphetamine,
the detective said during a public forum the night of Oct. 19.

"It's hard for us to combat cocaine usage because you can be a
functioning addict but hold down a 9-to-5 job. So it's hard for us to
kind of get into the cocaine scene because it's not like
methamphetamine where people are doing anything they have to to get
it," he said.

About 70 parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and other members
of the public attended the drug information forum held by the Huron
County Youth Justice Committee Program to learn about drug
identification, the effects of drugs on the body, safety concerns and
emerging drugs in the region, such as cocaine, which local police says
is becoming more popular in Huron, but specifically Goderich.

"It's hard for us to get into it," Miller said. "We're working on

David Greer, provincial constable with the Huron detachment, then
reminded the audience that while cocaine may be thought of as a party
drug, buying it supports, among other things, organized crime that
have gained a foothold i n Southern Ontario such as the Triads and the
Hells Angels.

He added that its sale supports slave labour in South American
countries where cocaine is made and then smuggled north.

"So you might think, oh I'm just buying a little cocaine to have some
fun, but you're supporting all that behind it to get it into this
country," Greer said.

Its use could also lead to experimentation with more potent drugs,
such as crack cocaine or methamphetamine, which is also prominent in
Huron County, Miller said.

Though Miller was unable to provide statistics for the prevalence of
any drugs in the region, he wanted those in the crowd to know that
these two drugs are here and they are a problem.

"A few people don't believe Huron County has a methamphetamine
problem, but we're handing out hit kits," Miller said, holding up a
ziplock bag filled with non-reusable needles and other tools for the
safe consumption of the drug.

One peculiarity in the county concerning methamphetamine is that
people here are injecting it, an uncommon practice in other areas,
Miller said and he is unsure of why.

Fentanyl is a drug he hasn't seen much of in the region but he warned
the audience to learn about this heroin-like drug because it is here
and may become a problem as it was last year in Owen Sound where where
there were a handful of deaths and several people hospitalized for

"I haven't seen very much fentanyl in Huron County but it is here and
it is coming," he said.

Drugs are also closely connected to crime in the region, he said,
specifically petty thefts, stolen vehicles and smash and grab robberies.

While there are no official statistics, "I would argue it's all
interrelated," Miller said.

Greer added that it makes sense to assume most crimes of opportunities
are caused by people trying to scrounge up enough cash to buy drugs.

"Drug dealers will accept watches, GPS's -- really anything with
value," Miller said.

By area, he said methamphetamine is popular in the northern part of
Huron as it is a drug closely associated with big cities, such as
Stratford where it is a problem and spreading to the north end of
Perth County. Huron, which its agricultural sector, is also the
location of many marihuana grow operations, he said, and Goderich has
"pretty much a mix of everything" though a higher rate of cocaine than
the rest of the county. Southern Huron, he said, has a higher rate of
heroin pills, such as Fentanyl.

However, Miller told the audience that though they are the police they
don't just deal in warrants and arrests, but that they understand
drugs as a health issue and take in information about people who are
potential users for the purposes to make sure they are alright.

"We don't got out there everyday looking for how many people we can
arrest today," Miller said. "We understand addiction is an issue and
just because we arrest somebody doesn't mean it's going to fix that."

Greer added that they want to get those in need the help they

Terres Donnelly, the Huron County Crown Attorney who organized the
event with the youth justice committee, said the reason for the forum
was to arm parents, service providers and members of the public with
information to keep the community safe and healthy.

"We want safe families. We want healthy families and safe
communities," she told The Signal Star.

She added that the turnout was fantastic and showed the commitment of
the community to achieving this goal.

"It's fantastic," she said. "Seventy people who came on a night when
they probably have something else on because they are invested in
their community and their family as well and we are all working to a
common goal. It's fantastic."

She added that there will be similar presentations held this spring in
Wingham and Exeter.
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