Cops face uphill battle keeping crystal meth out of the Koots
Despite its renown as a marijuana hotbed, the West Kootenay has largely avoided the ugly spectre of crystal methamphetamine – until recently.
Three arrests Friday (see https://castlegarsource.com/news/crystal-meth-arrests-outside-rosslandtrail-39243#.VgBFBH3W48A ) have police on high alert against one of the most destructive illegal drugs available on the black market.
Trail RCMP Cpl. Darryl Orr said the region hasn’t seen anywhere near the kind of meth problem that plagues the lower mainland and other major urban centres.
“In my years in the area, I’ve dealt with crystal meth maybe a half dozen times,” Orr said, adding the drug is very distinctive and recognizable. “We can usually tell it’s crystal meth by (the user’s) behavior – it causes paranoid delusions, hallucination, profuse sweating, racing heartbeat, blown eyes. It’s usually pretty obvious when someone is on it.”
He said the symptoms are often also accompanied by an incredibly acrid, pungent odour.
He said the drug is incredibly addictive, and very popular with dealers and users because of its unique qualities.
“Crystal meth is sold by the point – 0.1 of a gram, so there are 10 points in one gram,” he explained. “Each dose produces a high that can last 5 – 12 hours – so for $15 or $20, the user gets an all-day high, and it’s a profitable drug to sell.”
So why hasn’t this scourge achieved the kind of popularity in the Kootenays as other street drugs?
Orr said he thinks it has to do with the dynamics of organized crime.
“The drug industry is (run) by organized crime groups – to produce crystal meth, you have to have a laboratory situation, and we’re lucky, in that we haven’t seen that here,” he said. “But in the past six months, I’ve seen more incidents of crystal meth than ever before, so it’s on the rise.”
Luckily, so far, that increase remains disproportionately low compared to the size of the region, and Orr said police are committed to maintaining that status quo.
“We take it very, very seriously,” he said. “It’s a horrible drug that does horrible things to people and their families. It’s highly addictive and so intrusive and so toxic. It’s a heartbreaker – it’s incredibly sad to see people with that problem.
“They lose all inhibitions and become paranoid, erratic, irrational and unpredictable,” he said, adding this makes the user a significant danger to themselves and others. “It’s a nasty drug.”
Orr said police are hoping residents remain vigilant and alert, helping authorities keep the drug at bay.
“We certainly don’t want it to take hold in our communities,” he said. “It’s definitely one of our top priorities, to keep it out of our region. If anyone has any information about crystal meth – or any street level drugs – we urge them to contact their local RCMP detachment.”