McGuinty Government Invests $2 Million To Combat Crystal Methamphetamine Operations
Targeting Guns And Gangs, Organized Crime And Illegal Drugs
STRATFORD, ON, June 25 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is investing
$2 million to help Ontario communities combat the production, trafficking and
use of crystal methamphetamine, Community Safety and Correctional Services
Minister Monte Kwinter announced today.
"Crystal methamphetamine is a growing problem for many Ontario
communities," said Kwinter. "These specialized officers will help provide
expertise in safely dismantling methamphetamine labs and targeting the
criminal organizations that operate them."
An increasing number of young people are using crystal methamphetamine,
commonly known as crystal meth. It is one of the most addictive street drugs
and among the hardest to treat. Users may suffer brain damage, including
memory impairment and drug induced psychosis. Crystal meth is also a danger to
the community as its production almost always involves organized crime with
ties to gun and gang activity. Furthermore, crystal meth labs are a safety
hazard in neighbourhoods as the chemicals used for the production of the drug
are toxic and explosive.
The government is allocating $1.5 million to the Ontario Provincial
Police (OPP) for a team of nine OPP officers and one civilian as well as a new
fully-equipped response truck. The Office of the Fire Marshal will receive
half a million dollars to help meet the increased demands of fire and
explosion investigations resulting from the proliferation of crystal meth labs
as well as marijuana grow operations.
"These additional resources the ministry is providing will enable the OPP
and our partners to be better able to attack the growing problem of crystal
meth labs right across the province," said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.
"The nine new officers will help us to identify and shut down these labs. The
end result will be increased safety and quality of life for all the people of
"Crystal meth labs pose a significant health and safety risk to first
responders," said Ontario Fire Marshal Pat Burke. "This announcement by the
government will go a long way to reducing the number of labs in our
communities and reduce the risk of injury to our first responders."
"Stratford and area has been at the leading edge of a growing problem
with local crystal meth users," said Perth-Middlesex MPP John Wilkinson. "An
unprecedented community response is focused on making Perth County a Meth Free
Zone. Today's announcement by Minister Kwinter shows the wisdom of investing
at both the local and provincial level to fight the menace of crystal meth."
Crystal meth is a particular concern in Stratford and in surrounding
areas including Perth County. In addition to the response team, the Ontario
government announced funding of $1 million in the 2007 budget for the city of
Stratford to help tackle this problem through a community awareness and
education campaign, police enforcement initiatives and treatment. The OPP,
Stratford Police Service, Perth District Health Unit and Stratford Health
Services have worked together on this issue for several years and have a
wealth of experience and expertise upon which the province can draw.
"I am confident that the new team of specially trained officers is the
right answer to help make Ontario a meth-free zone," Kwinter said.
In Ontario, Perth County is the place to go for meth.
“Over the past two to three years we’ve seen a significant increase. Meth has gone from one per cent of our
admissions, to about 18 per cent,” said Catherine Hardman, the executive director of Choices For Change, a
counseling service in Stratford, Ont.
“No one is really seeing it in the proportions that we are.”
But it wasn’t always that way.
Four years ago, the man local police credit with triggering the meth problem came to Perth County with a recipe for
That man was Dan McCool.
He taught 20 people how to make the drug, and those 20 people taught 20 more, resulting in its rapid spread. The
recipe—known as the Birch Reduction Method—quickly transformed the area, said Sgt. Mike Bellai of the Stratford
In 2001, McCool—originally of Wingham, Ont.—was busted for meth possession in Texas. He was deported back
to Canada where he started cooking meth. A year later, the first clandestine meth lab was discovered in Perth
County. It was his.
Unlike other meth recipes, the Birch Reduction Method requires no heat source, and can be made with ingredients
common in rural areas.
“One of the main ingredients is chemical fertilizer called anhydrous ammonia,” said Bellai. That's why meth tends
to be more commonly produced in farming areas like Perth County.
The other reason for the spread of meth is the drug qualities.
“It’s cheap, the high is very intense and it lasts up to three days,” Bellai said. “That’s why it’s become such a
Meth produced in rural areas throughout Perth County is spreading into surrounding communities and cities.
“It’s seeping into other areas around us—Toronto, London, the Waterloo region and the north as well,” Bellai
Const. Todd Ferguson from the Stratford Police Service said that if meth isn’t stopped, it could reach epidemic
“It’s happened down in the states and it’s not fair to say that it’s coming this way,” he said.
“It’s already here.”