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Crime

Calgary police make substantial meth bust as force looks for support dealing with rising crime

WATCH: Calgary's interim police chief is appealing to Ottawa for help in dealing with an alarming rise in meth use. The drug has become cheaper and has led to higher crime and unprovoked attacks on the public. Blake Lough reports.

Two people have been charged after 10 kilograms of meth were seized in a recent, substantial drug bust in Calgary.

Police said Tuesday that after a search of two homes — one in the 100 block of Coral Shores Cape N.E. and one in the 900 block of 17 Avenue S.W. — on Dec. 4, investigators seized the methamphetamine as well as 2.4 kilograms of cocaine, more than 504 grams of fentanyl, over $75,000 in cash along with cell phones and drug packaging equipment.

Officers also found 42.3 kilograms pf phancetin, which police said is a drug historically used for pain relief but was banned in the 1980s. Investigators believe the drug is being used to cut the cocaine, which Calgary police Staff Sgt. Kyle Grant said was very concerning.

The seizure comes after Calgary’s interim police chief told a Health of Commons health committee on Tuesday morning the city’s crime rate was skyrocketing due to the dropping price of meth.

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Interim Chief Steve Barlow pointed to several recent unprovoked attacks where investigators believe the suspects were high on meth when the crimes were committed, including the case of an elderly woman who was pushed in the path of an oncoming CTrain last month.

READ MORE: Daughter of woman pushed in front of CTrain speaks about life-changing injuries: ‘She is a fighter’

He said a number break-ins, car thefts, property crimes and recent unprovoked stabbings — the random stabbings of three people at a Calgary shopping centre and the random stabbing of a woman on a downtown bench — have also been linked to meth.

“When I look at the tools on an officer’s belt, there isn’t a single one to help a person in the throes of addiction,” Barlow told the committee. “We will not arrest our way out of this problem.”

Barlow said Calgary’s police officers are overrun and need more resources to address the root causes of addictions.

In his address, Barlow said the price of meth has dropped dramatically in the past three years. In 2015, a gram of meth would sell for about $150, now it sells for about $50 — meaning one hit only costs about $5.

More than 42 kilograms of phancetin was seized in a search of two Calgary homes.
More than 42 kilograms of phancetin was seized in a search of two Calgary homes. Calgary Police Service
About 504 grams of fentanyl was seized in a search of Calgary homes.
About 504 grams of fentanyl was seized in a search of Calgary homes. Calgary Police Service
More than $75,000 was seized in a search of two homes in Calgary.
More than $75,000 was seized in a search of two homes in Calgary. Calgary Police Service

 

“This volume of methamphetamine flowing into and through our city is a substantial public- and officer-safety issue,” Grant said in a release on Tuesday. “Fentanyl is a significant public health crisis, but meth is truly a crime and safety issue.

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“Our intel and data suggest methamphetamine use is on the rise. A longer high, cheaper price and an increase in availability gives meth a significant draw for individuals with a substance use disorder. Meth is fueling much of the crime in our city — it drives our property crime and is also a substantial factor in a number of violent events we’ve seen this year.”

When asked about Barlow’s claims, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that while the ever-growing opioid problem is a tragedy for the city, officials are also dealing with a “massively increasing amount of meth usage.”

Nenshi said there are a number of reasons for the increase, including the fact that “one of the effects of meth is that it keeps you warm and it helps you stay awake. So for people that don’t feel safe at night on the streets or in the shelters, this is something they can turn to.”

He added that often leads to unpredictability, violence and social issues.

“We’ve got to have a real focus on meth as we have on opioids and this is something we’ve got to look at as we’re looking at crime and social disorder in the city.”

READ MORE: Prairie police chiefs, mayors plead for Ottawa’s help dealing with meth-fueled crime

Barlow said he expects Calgary will have a record number of meth seizures in 2018, exceeding 1,769, which would translate to 130 per cent above the five-year average.

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Calgary police said the investigation that led to the massive drug seizure began in October when the CPS Gang Enforcement Team (GET) identified two homes and two vehicles believed to be involved in drug trafficking in Calgary. That was later linked to an earlier drug seizure in Medicine Hat, where police there along with the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) seized nearly half a kilogram of meth on Nov. 14.

That seizure led ALERT to a suspected Calgary drug supply which was shared with GET.

Domenico Luca Loiacono, 27, was charged with two counts of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and one count of possession of property obtained through crime.

Richie Danesh Ramudit, 26, was charged with four counts of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and two counts of possession of property obtained through crime.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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