The Madness of Meth part 2
Crystal meth is by far the most prevalent drug readily available on Saskatoon streets, the city’s police service says.
"There are users and dealers and houses with methamphetamine in every part of the city," said acting Saskatoon police Sgt. Matt Walz.
Walz has been a Saskatoon police officer for 13 years. He previously spent five of those years working on the Integrated Organized Crime North Unit — a unit made up of Saskatoon police and RCMP officers. He says it was an eye-opening experience with no shortage of work to be done.
"I remember when I first joined the drug unit in 2011, meth wasn't a huge portion of our work, but by the time I was leaving it was heavily on the rise."
According to the Saskatoon Police Service, meth possession charges have been steadily increasing over the last decade. In 2015, police laid 293 possession charges, which is the same amount laid from 2012 to 2014 combined. A total of 472 meth possession charges were laid in 2016.
"It was astronomical how much the increase was and as more and more people started to use it as their drug of choice," Walz said.
Walz says drugs including meth are linked to a huge portion of crimes in Saskatoon. He says the drug is rarely made in Saskatoon, but instead is being trafficked from bigger cities and drawing gang activity to the city.
"There's money to be made in the sale of meth, so inevitably street gangs get involved in that. You get home invasions, street robberies. You have rival dealers, rival gangs committing violence against each other. Then you have vehicle thefts, where vehicles are stolen to commit other crimes.
Police say a number of north-end break and enters are directly linked back to methamphetamine purchasing and often those same break and enters are being committed to get more money to buy meth.
"It becomes all-encompassing of their whole life," Walz said.
The drug made an especially negative impact on the life of a woman who goes by the name “Sarah.” She requested CTV not provide her real name.
She's been arrested various times by Saskatoon police and has a history of meth possession charges on her file.
"I always used to be like ungrateful and nothing was good enough. After meth I found my expectations weren't so high," she said.
Sarah started smoking crack and then she discovered meth. She smoked it at first, but soon started to inject it and become dependent on the drug by committing crimes just to get her next fix. Sarah says most people like her will do anything for the drug.
"When they're physically sick, they feel like they have no choice. They will steal from their parents, from their friends, trade sex for it and do stuff that they wouldn't normally do."
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit with Saskatoon police have made several meth seizures over the last six months ranging from six to 12 ounces and all the way up to one kilogram seized. Police say meth is reaching “epidemic” status on the streets because of how cheap and readily available it is. Compared to other hard drugs, meth can be purchased for sometimes half the price. For example, police say street value for a gram of meth is roughly $50, whereas cocaine can range from $80 to $100 per gram.
Police have already laid 275 meth possession charges as of June this year. Walz says in order to address the problem, police will need to continue to do its best dealing with violence and theft, but also focus on the root problems.
"We need to address the poverty issues, people getting stuck in that cycle of family violence and things that put people in a situation where using drugs becomes an attractive thing,” Walz said.
For now, police say they are continuing to arrest people like Sarah each day. She agrees that a conversation surrounding meth and other socioeconomic problems in Saskatoon needs to continue.
"I think that it's important to stretch yourself every day, to talk about the things that hurt you, that embarrass you, not, ‘How was your day?’”
http://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/the-madness-of-meth-a-link-to-crime-1.3668903 November 8, 2017
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