An internal restructuring a year ago paid off today (Sept. 25) when the St. Thomas Police Service revealed it had recently executed the largest crystal meth bust in the city and the largest fentanyl seizure in the region.
The investigation began in March and resulted in the seizure of four kilograms of crystal meth; almost 60 grams of powder fentanyl; more than 48 grams of purple fentanyl; a quantity of hydromorphone and morphine capsules, hash oil and other drugs with a total street value of over $466,000.
Eight St. Thomas residents and four individuals from London face a variety of drug-related charges. City police are still seeking a 41-year old St. Thomas female and a 40-year old female from London in connection with this undertaking.
St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge explained, “This really all started a year ago when we took a look at the organization and did some restructuring. One of the areas we restructured was the drug unit, which we changed to a street crime unit with a full-time supervisor in there to bolster the numbers.
“So the focus is not going to be just drugs, it’s going to be property crime as well because we know it goes hand in hand. People have addictions and they need money for their fix. So what do they do? They commit property crimes to go buy the drugs.
“We started gathering a bunch of intelligence and we knew the focus was downtown. We had complaints from the Downtown Development Board and the Chamber of Commerce and through surveys, social media and Crimestoppers we knew the drug issue was downtown.”
Additionally, several other search warrants were executed during this time period as part of a city-wide crystal meth/fentanyl crackdown which resulted in the arrest of six other St. Thomas residents and an individual residing in Malahide.
Drugs seized in those supplemental raids had a street value of $10,000.
Herridge added, “We’ve got the intelligence, so let’s start at the user level and that took us to the supplier level. That project really started to take hold in March and in the past six months we started sweeping up in St. Thomas and it took us into London as well.”
On July 11 of this year, London police executed what they are calling the largest fentanyl seizure ever in that city with the recovery of 50 grams of fentanyl, 192 grams of crystal meth and a quantity of cocaine and hydromorphone capsules with a value of approximately $50,000.
A St. Thomas man and woman were charged after a search warrant was executed in a south London hotel.
“That was a result of our information,” advised Herridge. “We didn’t want to be named at the time because we were still moving ahead with our project. “Over time, we use various police investigative techniques and we were able to obtain some drugs in St. Thomas and London. We know the pipeline comes from London and along the 401. It’s coming down Wellington and Highbury into St. Thomas.
“A number of arrests were made in St. Thomas but the big drugs were seized in London that were eventually going to be destined for St. Thomas.”
That is why police need the community to step up and continue to call Crimestoppers when they have any information on drug dealings, pointed out Herridge.
“Policing is not just us doing it on our own. It’s got to be in collaboration with the community as well.”
The pay-off following such a long-term investigation is a morale boost internally, but it ripples out further than that, suggested Herridge.
“It’s a good feeling externally because we are just enhancing the community well-being. The other thing too is we arrested some traffickers and users, but this might be the road to recovery.
“Even if one of the people we arrested or impacted, if they go on to recovery and get away from drugs because of what has happened to them this time, that is a big accomplishment as well.
“We have some highly skilled people in our street crime unit and criminal investigations unit and we are very fortunate. It is such a team effort across the board because the information that comes from the front line general patrol guys . . . that information gets fed through to our street crime unit.
“The entire organization should be happy today because they all play a role in this.”
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope
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