Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Six face charges in prescription-pill bust

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Six people are facing charges after a police crackdown on the illegal sale of prescription drugs in the North End.

"The usage and traffic of illicit prescription pills has become rampant in Winnipeg, across Canada and throughout Manitoba," said Sgt. Bonnie Emerson of the Winnipeg Police Service.

This summer, through an initiative called Project Dissolve, police investigated the trafficking of pharmaceuticals along Main Street between Sutherland and Selkirk avenues.

Among the drugs being sold were codeine, Xanax and Percocet.

Emerson said the police are working with members of the local community, government officials and the RCMP to address the problem from all sides.

"This is an issue that's beyond law enforcement; it's a public-health issue and a public-safety issue," Emerson said.

Some residents in the North End started becoming concerned over the illegal sale of pharmaceuticals over three years ago when they were seeing it happen right in front of their eyes.

Sel Burrows, president of the North Point Douglas Seniors Association, said he and his colleagues used to witness the drug sales from his former office on Main Street.

"We were flabbergasted," he said. "We knew it happened, but to see it being done so openly was shocking."

Police say people are getting access to these drugs in a number of different ways. Some are obtaining them through valid prescriptions and then reselling them, while others are buying prescriptions from individuals who have access to them.

There have also been a few home invasions involving the theft of pharmaceutical drugs in the area.

Burrows said they have been seeing an increasing number of deaths by overdose, and it's a major concern within the community.

veronika.gorlova@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2013 A14

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