Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Igniting the violence
It serves as the fuel for organized crime - and Winnipeggers are consuming it at an alarming rate.
Police and justice sources believe locals are now smoking and snorting a staggering 500 kilograms of cocaine per month, while only a tiny fraction of that is actually being seized.
And where the drugs are being bought and used may come as a surprise to many.
"You rarely find a big, kilo-level deal going down in the North End. If anything, it’s much more prevalent in the city’s wealthier neighbourhoods," a federal justice source told me last week. "Those are the people who have the money."
Don`t believe him? Just check out the list of major drug busts which have happened over the past few years. Among the locales where deals went down:
-a home in St. Andrews
-an auto parts store in Transcona
-a Tim Hortons in Garden City
-the Pancake House in Polo Park
-the food court at Polo Park Shopping Centre
-a home in Crescentwood
-the Salisbury House in Norwood
-the Harbour View golf course
-the Earl’s in Polo Park
-a McDonald’s in Transcona
-the Canad Inns Polo Park
-outside a bank in River Heights
"It cuts across all boundaries," the justice source said. "It’s just less obvious in the wealthier neighbourhoods."
A veteran Winnipeg paramedic told me they routinely have to deal with the impact of drug abuse - such as overdoses - in middle and upper class neighbourhoods.
"I’d love to drop some names but I can’t...too high profile," he said. "But cocaine, and meth, are definitely popular among the upper crust of society."
He believes addicts rarely think about the so-called domino effect their drug use has - such as members of local street gangs fighting over control of the drug turf and the lucrative profits that come with it.
"To be honest, I don’t think people care. They’re hooked and they don’t care who it affects. I’ve picked up people who steal from their own mothers and grandmothers to get a high," he said.
Sources say there will always be street-level gang violence unless something is done to curb the high demand for the poison they are peddling.
"I don’t think the demand is ever going to go down. It’s too addictive for those who use it. And when you have a demand, there will always be guys trying to sell," said ome source.
Unfortunately, that means the type of street-level violence we’ve seen this summer is only going to continue.
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About Mike McIntyre
Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.
Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.
Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.
He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.
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