Illegal Drugs – “We are Facing Unprecedented Threat”

Substance abuse is, sadly, among the top 3 health concerns nowadays
Substance abuse is, sadly, among the top 3 health concerns nowadays

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay has the highest rate of opioid overdoses in Ontario. The growing flood of illegal drugs into our city has Thunder Bay Police very worried that the number of overdoses will spike.

“We are facing an unprecedented threat to our community posed by the influx of gangs to our city who take advantage of the high demand for illicit drugs,” Det.-Insp. Fennell said, adding that drug traffickers are taking advantage of the community’s most vulnerable and do not appear to be limiting travel despite COVID-19 risks.

“Drug dealers traveling from down south don’t care about spreading COVID-19,” Fennell said.

In off-record conversations with front-line police officers, the level of stress is obvious. Police officers tell NetNewsLedger that all of the efforts they do still are not enough. One officer said, “For every ten southern Ontario gang members we arrest, they send twenty more to replace them”.

The level of violence, as evidenced by a recent shooting on May Street has front-line police very concerned as well.

The Thunder Bay Police Service is growing increasingly concerned about the toxicity of narcotics now circulating the city. Recent calls for service, along with information obtained through various investigations, have led police to believe a potential spike in drug-related overdoses and deaths is possible currently or in the near future.

“We do not have the statistics just yet to be able to verify these concerns, but what our officers have been seeing recently is very alarming,” said Criminal Investigations Branch Det.-Insp. John Fennell. “We prefer not to wait for statistics to confirm our suspicions, so we felt it necessary to provide an official warning to the public about our concerns about these potential elevated dangers.”

The opioid commonly referred to as “down” or “dizzy,” a fentanyl-based street drug, is most concerning as frontline officers have witnessed a number of recent overdoses and sudden deaths where the use of this substance is suspected.

The sale of fake Percocet pills and fake Oxycodone pills, which actually contain fentanyl, is also a concern along with other narcotics contaminated with fentanyl unknown to the user.

Thunder Bay Police say, “The city of Thunder Bay has the highest per-capita opioid overdose death rate in Ontario. These high addiction rates among the city’s vulnerable, along with statistics showing significant and growing trends of opioid-related overdoses and deaths, led first responders and other health officials to declare the issue a community crisis in June 2019.”

These overdose cases create increased demand and put a strain on first responders and other health-care services.

If you are struggling with addiction, the Thunder Bay Police Service would like you to be aware that you may be more at risk of coming into contact with fatal and dangerous narcotics. If you know of a loved one struggling with addiction, police encourage you to speak with them about these issues.

If you are concerned about drugs being sold in your neighbourhood please call police at 684-1200 or submit tips anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at www.p3tips.com.

If you are an addict and have fears or anxiety about coming forward to police, we strongly encourage you to speak with a family member or friend who may be able to come forward on your behalf.