The St. John’s drug scene

CBC’s David Cochrane on the darker side to oil-fueled prosperity in my hometown:

St. John’s is the hottest cocaine market in Atlantic Canada. At least that’s what the drug dealers whom the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary arrests tell the police officers.

The volumes of cocaine coming into the city are enormous,in spite of the many arrests and the relative geographic isolation. The spike in disposable incomes from the local oil boom and commuter workers from western Canada is fueling the demand. It is the dark side of prosperity.

Friday’s announcement of a $1-million police task force to tackle drugs and organized crime shows how true that is.

But embedded into that drug trade is a streak of hidden and unreported violence. There’s a rash of drug dealers ripping off other drug dealers. There are home invasions in areas much nicer than Tessier Place where stick-up crews are trying to rip off a dealer’s dope stash or his bank roll.

Police and prosecutors hear of severe beatings using bats,crowbars,brass knuckles and bear spray. The victims of these beatings often refuse to give the police a statement even if they end up in hospital with life-threatening injuries. After all,how do you tell a cop that the guy who hurt you did it in order to steal your cocaine stash?

One thought on “The St. John’s drug scene

  1. Alan Henry says:

    This has been going on for a long time. The drug disputes and stash-house rip-offs have become common enough and violent enough to be noticed by the average citizen. Luckily, firearm use has been limited so far, but it is there.

    I recognize so many of the names in the news of those arrested in relation to these incidents, the armed robberies, and the B&Es. For some I can recite their personal histories since their first appearance in Youth Court.

    But it isn’t just the skells using the drugs. The workers going back and forth to Alberta, the weekend partiers, the downtown crowd, the yuppies, and that ilk also use. Someone once said, “Cocaine is god’s way of telling you that you have too much money.” When the money runs out and dependence is established, crime is the way to get what you need.

    The waitlist at the Opiate Treatment Centre is several months long. The citizens of Paradise objected to a youth residential treatment centre in their town. (Unsuccessfully, it is currently under construction.) The demand for help exceeds the supply, and that is just the people who realize they have a problem and want to stop.

    There is a dark side to oil prosperity.

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