Saskatoon police are asking anyone who bought cocaine from an alleged drug dealer to turn it in to headquarters after a number of overdoses in the city, including two deaths.
Police said the cocaine possibly laced with fentanyl was sold by someone going by by the names of Lil Joe or Joe Bro, or used the cell phone number 306-881-7300. The decision to release the name and phone number was made in consultation with the provincial and federal Crowns, according to Supt. Dave Haye with Saskatoon police.
“We believe that the public safety interests of the greater need here and that’s why we released that information,” Haye said. The cell phone was in police custody Monday morning.
They are urging users to turn the cocaine in at the front desk so it can be properly disposed. “I think there is a clear and demonstrated danger to the public,” Haye said. Investigators said they are not looking to pursue charges; they want to ensure the health and safety of the public.
Emergency services were initially called to a home on Murphy Crescent at around 7:30 a.m. CT on Saturday. Two men, 21 and 24, were found suffering from the effects of an apparent drug overdose. They are recovering in hospital. Officers were then called to a home in the 3000-block of Arlington Avenue at roughly 9:45 a.m. where a 31-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, were also found to have overdosed. They were taken to hospital for treatment where the man later died. The woman is recovering. Then at around 10:30 a.m. police were called to a home in the 300-block of Avenue W North where two women, 25 and 48, were located. The 48-year-old woman was declared dead. The 25-year-old woman was unresponsive and is receiving medical treatment in the hospital. There is no word on her current condition.
Three suspects from outside Saskatchewan were taken into custody. “Based on my experience, drug traffickers often will share street names as well as deal phones,” Haye said. Police said they arrested a 29-year-old man, who was driving a dark-coloured SUV, around 10:15 p.m. on Saturday for trafficking a controlled substance.
Another man, also driving a dark-coloured SUV, was arrested around 12:05 a.m. on Sunday for trafficking a controlled substance. Members of the Saskatoon Integrated Drug Enforcement Street Team (SIDEST) and the tactical support unit then searched a home in the 100-block of Pawlychenko Lane at around 5:10 a.m. on Sunday and arrested a 29-year-old man.
“We believe we have the right people in custody, whether one of them is using that name or not, I’m not sure right now,” Haye said. All three appeared in court on Monday morning and will remain in custody until a bailing hearing on March 14.
The police investigation into the deaths is ongoing and investigators are looking at the possibility of laying homicide-related charges. As of Monday morning, there were no other calls about fentanyl overdoses following the arrests, according to police.
Items seized from the arrests and the search included 11.16 grams of cocaine/fentanyl, 149.88 grams of cocaine, 31.13 grams of heroin, 34.44 grams of marijuana, a firearm, ammunition, and $14,210 cash. Following Saturday’s initial public safety advisory, a 23-year-old man who was brought into the police detention unit at roughly 12:30 p.m. the same day immediately began showing signs of medical distress. Detention staff and an on-duty paramedic alerted Medavie Health Services West, who took him to hospital for treatment of a suspected drug overdose.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Saskatoon police at 306-975-8300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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