A record-setting seizure of methamphetamine by Winnipeg Police is good news for officers, and bad news for criminals — but advocates say those on the streets will feel the duality of such a bust.
On Oct. 12, police raided an apartment building in the 800 block of Sterling Lyon Parkway.
Behind that door was the largest quantity of methamphetamine the Guns and Gangs unit has ever seized — 63 kilograms.
Inspector Elton Hall says at $10 per dose, it represents $6.3 million in street value.
“From a criminal organization perspective, this is $6 million that will not be going back into organized crime,” he told media at a news conference Thursday. “(With that money) they buy drugs or firearms with and create the problems we have in Winnipeg.
“From a community standpoint, this does provide some relief for the community. Individuals who may be suffering from drug use, this might provide an opportunity to reevaluate the position they’re in and try to get help.”
Mitch Bourbonniere of the Downtown Community Safety Partnership only partially agrees.
“Any time we can get poison off the street, shut people down, go after the drug dealers, then I’m all for it.”
Hall added this will help relieve pressure on hospital staff, who’ve dealt with a 700-per cent increase in methamphetamine and fentanyl patients in the past three years.
But Bourbonniere believes some of those people who regularly used meth will instead turn to something even more potent.
“I worry about medical complications, I worry about them turning to opiates, prescription drugs, alcohol… I worry about it all,” Bourbonniere said.
“From a policing perspective, when people use meth it creates a lot of issues on the street, so we should see a dip in that violence and crime as well.”
On that point, Bourbonniere says the opposite could be true.
“I do worry about desperation. I worry about people who really require detoxification.”
Arlene Last-Kolb believes that detoxification is the missing piece, stopping the city from feeling the true effects of a massive bust like this one.
“If people have other options to get what they need, they wouldn’t be looking at going to the streets, purchasing stuff illegally,” she tells Global News. “(That) means we probably wouldn’t need the supply that’s out there.”
Last-Kolb believes an unwillingness by government to adopt a harm-reduction strategy and insufficient funding for wrap-around services is holding everyone back.
“I don’t support crime, but I support policy. I support a safer way. I support a government that says, ‘We can do more.'”