Winnipeg’s police chief says officers are working on an illicit drug strategy to try and combat a dangerous trend on city streets.
“The emergence of methamphetamine in this city is getting to the level where it’s keeping me up at night,” Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth said.
In 2016, Winnipeg police said they seized 11,590 grams of meth in 490 separate incidents. Last year, that number rose by 211 seizures. In January of 2018 alone, police report confiscating 5,800 grams of meth: close to half of what was found in all of the 2017 calendar year.
Winnipeg police, paramedics, doctors and resource providers gathered Thursday after another large scale seizure in the city.
Inspector Max Waddell from the Organized Crime Unit said there are four driving factors to the rise in meth use in the city:
- Low cost – at $10, it is easy to get and profitable for traffickers. Meth used to cost $55,000 per kilogram, it now costs $17,000 per kilogram
- The high lasts 14 hours compared to about 45 minutes for crack-cocaine – the “bang for buck is superior”
- Availability – it is readily available; meth is manufactured in B.C. and is easily brought to Winnipeg
- Ease of production – meth is made from off the shelf products (anyone can make meth)
On Thursday, Insp. Waddell outlined a new illicit drug strategy, which will involve large-scale intervention and education. It’s coming to Winnipeg in the spring.
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“We all have to collectively work together if we’re going to combat this problem,” Insp. Waddell said. “It’s been quietly building momentum.
“Two years ago, meth in the kilo version was $55,000. Today, you can buy a kilo on the street for $17,000.”
WATCH: Insp. Waddell and Dr. Grierson describe why meth is so difficult to deal with
Dr. Rob Grierson, who is the medical director for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, said meth is incredibly hard to deal with.
“This is a dangerous substance, to the users and to the healthcare system because it is so unpredictable,” Grierson said. Meth users can experience “super-human powers, sudden cardiac death, euphoria, impaired judgement, poor self control…”
Grierson said the most challenging issue is that as a meth user transitions between phases, psychotic symptoms often arise leading to paranoia, “which can last hours, up to days,” he said.
“No two individuals using the same substance at alike… there is no one way to handle this,” Grierson said.
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