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Guelph's meth problem continues to grow

Undercover drug officer says meth-related arrests have gone from nine in 2012 to 108 in 2015
crystal meth

In just four short years, methamphetamine has become the most serious drug problem facing Guelph.

"It just took off in 2012," Detective Constable Kendall Brown, a four year member of the Guelph Police Service drug unit said Thursday.

"Because of the nature of the drug, it's not something you can eradicate," said Brown during a presentation to the Guelph Police Services Board.

The first time a person uses methamphetamine "they get a high that's equivalent to a 20 or 30 minute orgasm," Brown said, "and that's the problem ... they're constantly chasing that same high."

In 2012 Guelph Police made nine meth-related arrests, confiscating 14 grams of the drug in the process. In 2015 they made 108 meth-related arrests and confiscated 4,407 grams of the drug.

Brown pointed that arrests in 2015 doubled over the previous year in part because of Project Ice, a special project conducted by police aimed specifically at meth trafficking in the city.

"The focus is on the people bringing it in to Guelph. We want to cut out the source," the 11-year police veteran said.

"We're always working on the source. We'd rather arrest the source than anyone else."

Brown said the increase in break and enters, bicycle thefts and other commodity-related crimes are related to the rise in the meth problem.

"The commodity is stolen goods," the constable said. "They'll trade a $1,200 bike for $100 worth of meth."

Mayor Cam Guthrie said property-related crimes are one of the biggest complaints he hears about.

"Meth has become a city issue that's reared its ugly head the last couple of years and this is why stuff is stolen all the time," Guthrie said.

Brown gave a brief overview of the drug, how a weaker version made for several decades by bike gangs became a much more potent and addictive version when the Mexican cartels and Asian gangs took over.

The drug goes for $100 a gram on the street and it's not uncommon for some addicts to go through two grams a day.

Brown said the relapse rate for the highly-addictive substance is around 93 percent. The long term cure rate, he said, is less than 10 percent.

He said education, counselling, removing addicts from the environment that fuels the problem, enforcement and harm reduction are all needed to help lower the problem.

So far there has not been an operational meth lab found in Guelph by police, but Brown said it's only a matter of time until one is found.

"It's more a matter of when, not if, we'll see a meth lab here," he said, pointing out there have been several dumping sites of meth-related containers and products found out in the country.

One unwanted side-effect of the war on meth has been a corresponding increase in cocaine, crack and heroin into the city.


Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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