Source: Province, The  (Vancouver, B.C.)
Pubdate: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 News A4
Author: Adrienne Tanner, Staff Reporter


A 10-year-old Honduran boy who swallowed 28 rocks of cocaine during a
Vancouver police sweep of Hastings Street is recovering in Children's

Police took the child to hospital after they saw him furiously swallowing
the drugs during the raid, Staff-Sgt. Doug MacKay-Dunn said yesterday.

The boy spit up eight of the rocks on the way to hospital. Twenty more were
later pumped from his stomach.

``The kid could have died,'' said MacKay-Dunn. ``There's no way the officers
could have prevented him from swallowing.''

Police are no longer allowed to use choke-holds to prevent dealers from
swallowing evidence.

Another 14-year-old Honduran youth also working as a ``runner'' at Hastings
and Abbott streets was turned over to the ministry of children and families.
He was placed in a group home where he is being counselled by a youth

Neither child has immediate family in Honduras. The youngest child's mother
is known to Vancouver police and is believed to be dealing drugs in the
United States.

MacKay-Dunn said the investigating officers were ``disgusted'' to find such
young children being used as mules by dealers. ``One made it known to the
males present what he thought of people who would use a child as a
repository for their illegal drugs.''

Police believe there are more than 100 Hondurans dealing crack cocaine along
the Hastings strip and SkyTrain stops in Burnaby and New Westminster.

They come to Canada overland and make refugee claims when they arrive. Among
them are children who are lured north by the promise of jobs and then used
as indentured dealers by older gang members.

Immigration, police and provincial government officials have been scrambling
for solutions since spring, when the influx of young Hondurans was first

The Children and Families Ministry can only offer help. Immigration
Department spokesman Rob Johnston said his staff have been assigned to work
with police and ministry social workers to ensure the Honduran children are

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Checked-by: Don Beck