The province and police agencies are asking Manitobans to help identify methamphetamine dealers through an enhanced Crime Stoppers program.
A new advertising campaign was launched Monday, urging citizens to step forward with any information that can be used to arrest meth dealers.
Ads employing the slogan, "Something is wrong," will begin immediately on television, web-based and digital platforms, as well as in Winnipeg Transit bus interiors and shelters.
Cash awards to tipsters will be also enhanced for information that leads to meth-related arrests.
"We're asking Manitobans to join in (the) fight against illicit drugs and to report any drug sales anonymously to Crime Stoppers here in Manitoba," Justice Minister Cliff Cullen told a news conference at the legislature building.
Crime Stoppers now pays up to $2,000 for a tip that leads to an arrest.
The size of the award depends on the value of the information, the type of arrest, the dollar value of any drugs seized and the threat to the person who steps forward, said Crime Stoppers chairman Paul Johnson.
The province is contributing $180,000 to the new Crime Stoppers initiative from a proceeds-of-crime fund of forfeitures from federally prosecuted cases.
The money is going toward the new ad campaign that will run March to May, as well as to enhanced payouts. Officials did not indicate how much higher payments to tipsters might climb.
"It's up to everyone now to make that call. We have to work together for safer communities by putting a stop to the meth dealers and their suppliers," Johnson said.
Winnipeg Police Service deputy chief Jeff Szyszkowski said meth trafficking and consumption in Winnipeg and across the province is at an all-time high and plays a significant role in violent crime. In 2019, he said, the WPS attended 2,559 calls related to illicit drug consumption; of those, 1,888 involved the use of meth.
The police service's goal is to disrupt and dismantle drug-trafficking cells, Szyszkowski said. He called Crime Stoppers "an extremely important cog in the wheel of justice."
Last year, Winnipeg police seized about $1 million in drugs as a result of of Crime Stoppers tips, and they're on track to do the same this year, Szyszkowski said. He said "a good percentage" of the drug total seized last year was meth.
RCMP assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy said tipsters need to feel safe about reporting a crime.
"Crime Stoppers is a trusted, known and respected organization in Manitoba," she said. "I have no doubt that this new campaign targeted at meth-related crimes will provide officers with invaluable information which will help us in combatting this ongoing problem."
Crime Stoppers receives more than 4,200 tips from Manitobans annually.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Updated on Monday, March 9, 2020 at 1:39 PM CDT: update and write-thru