28 BUSTED IN DRUG SWEEP
While crystal meth may be in the public spotlight, a recent RCMP undercover operation has found that cocaine is by far the most prevalent drug on Kamloops streets.
Throughout the month of July, local RCMP units joined some of their provincial counterparts for a three-week investigation, targeting street-level drug dealers throughout the city.
Undercover officers made 35 purchases - 33 of which were cocaine, one of heroin and one of morphine.
"Cocaine, we are finding, is the most commonly dealt substance in the community," said RCMP Cpl. Fran Bethell.
"We made purchases from as small as .2 grams up to 224 grams . . . in total we purchased 281.3 grams of cocaine during the three-week project."
The 28 individuals responsible for selling the drugs were from different areas of the city, but RCMP are not ruling out that there may be some connection to organized crime.
Drugs were purchased by officers from a variety of locations in Kamloops, including houses, apartments and businesses, some of which the RCMP will continue to monitor.
While it may seem odd that no crystal meth was found, the results of the investigation were not surprising, according to operations officer Insp. Yves Lacasse.
"Kamloops is like many other cities of its size," he said at yesterday;s press conference. "Illegal drug trafficking is a problem in every community, and we are no better or worse in this regard.
"This project confirms what we already knew - drug trafficking continues to be a problem, and drug traffickers continue to poison our community."
More than 15 officers were involved, at a cost of $5,500 in drug payment and approximately $10,000 in other expenses.
About 75 per cent of the drug dealers targeted in the operation were arrested in the last two weeks, some of whom have since been released on bail.
Lacasse said the outcome of the investigation will have an immediate impact on the drug community.
"The dealers will be more cautious . . . our goal is to be proactive and ensure that we're on the street, and we're going to be watching."
Although RCMP are not able to discuss any future operations they have planned, citing safety concerns, Bethell made assurances that there are similar projects in the works.
"We feel this is a really effective enforcement tool, there is every possibility we may be using this strategy again in the future."
Kamloops This Week (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Kamloops This Week