KAMLOOPS - Kamloops RCMP attributes a rise in the number of drug offences in the city to proactive police work amid the fentanyl crisis.
In a police committee meeting held yesterday, Jan. 30, Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller said there has been a nearly 76 per cent increase in drug offences in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the same period the year prior.
A police report indicates the higher number is due to more enforcement and proactiveness by officers.
"Increases in the categories of possession of controlled drugs are an indication of successful enforcement action," the report says. "These offences typically arise from proactive investigations rather than calls for service from the public."
A new unit within the detachment was introduced in the third quarter of 2016, focusing solely on street level drug investigations. The unit was created in response to the fentanyl crisis and "alarming increase of overdoses and overdose deaths in Kamloops," according to the report.
The unit was created by reorganizing existing resources, the report says.
The street level drug unit targets drug traffickers in its investigations and in the last three months of 2016, the unit's operations resulted in the seizure of more than $12,000, 86 grams of cocaine, 18 grams of heroin, 154 grams of marijuana, three grams of meth and 19 tablets containing Oxycodone or fentanyl.
“Unfortunately in most of those samples, (there were) elements of fentanyl," Mueller said. "This illustrates the importance of the street-level drug team to our response to the harm caused by the emergence of opioids," the report says.
In 2016, 40 people died from illicit drug overdoses in Kamloops, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. That's more overdose deaths in the city than in the past five years combined.
The Targeted Enforcement Unit of the detachment is also focused on illicit drugs. For the last three months of 2015, the unit seized more than $95,000 in connection to a drug trafficking investigation.
Drug usage is also contributing to an increase in property crime across the city, Mueller said. He says the increase of thefts from motor vehicles is indicative of vulnerable people trying to support their drug habit.
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