HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Violent Crime Increase Blamed On Drug Trade
Pubdate: Fri, 30 Apr 2004
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author:  Marshall Jones


Police say a spate of violent crimes in the Central Okanagan can all be 
traced back to the thriving drug trade in one way or another.

This month, RCMP were called to an apparent shoot-out that left two men 
dead in Peachland, as well as gun-fire ringing out at nightclubs and a 
stabbing on a popular beach.

Kelowna RCMP Insp. Bill McKinnon isn't surprised.

He said Kelowna is a growing city and along with that growth comes an 
increased likelihood of violent crimes.

"The whole social make-up of Kelowna is changing," he said.

"A great portion of our crime here revolves around the drug world from 
marijuana grow-ops to people with addiction problems who need to steal to 
feed their habit."

No one contends that a month of sensational crimes equals a rougher street 
scene but the stats do back it up.

Drug crime stats for 2003 were up 14 per cent over 2002.

Police investigated 197 robberies last year, up 143 per cent over 2002 and 
low level assaults were up 15 per cent.

He says violence goes hand-in-hand with organized crime involved in the 
drug trade.

He says handguns and even machine guns are not an uncommon seizure in 
marijuana grow shows and methamphetamine labs.

"We feel that organized crime plays a significant role in the drug trade," 
he said, but he wouldn't be more specific.

Police are trying to do their part.

The RCMP "Green Team" has taken down 40 marijuana growing operations in a 
blitz this spring.

But the biggest concern right now is the proliferation of crystal meth.

Cpl. Reg Burgess says crystal meth has replaced cocaine as the predominant 
hard drug of choice.

"It's scary. It's super addictive and cheaper than crack cocaine," he said.

"Down in the U.S., they are switching from cocaine to crystal meth.

"It's easier to make and so much cheaper."

Since B.C. marijuana is traded for cocaine from the U.S. already, it's 
likely that it's now being traded for the new coke.

He said it's likely responsible in some way for the violent crimes and the 
street problem gripping Kelowna.
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