Two drug busts that yielded a small amount of narcotics to the Trail RCMP last week, illustrate just how critical it is for police to get illegal substances off the streets, no matter the quantity.
Both cases occurred on Monday, Sept. 16.
The first incident unfolded that afternoon after a car was pulled over for a traffic stop near Topping Street in West Trail. A police service dog detected drugs, and led officers to seize three grams of fentanyl from a 58-year old woman who was driving a Volkswagen Beetle with a burned out headlight.
The second drug bust happened later that night in the outskirts of Trail, on Seven Mile Dam Road. Just before 9:30 p.m., a patrol unit pulled over a male driver, 37, and his 24-year old female passenger.
That roadside check also yielded a small amount of fentanyl.
To put three grams and a “small amount” of fentanyl into context, the Trail Times consulted with Sgt. Mike Wicentowich from the Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment.
“It is a small amount; however, fentanyl is one of the three main illicit drugs sold in the Trail and Greater District area,” he began.
“The other two illicit drugs are cocaine and methamphetamine.”
Fentanyl, however, is believed to be responsible for a disproportionate amount of drug overdose deaths in the last few years in B.C., and the rest of Canada, due to its high potency in small concentrations.
The popularity of fentanyl coincided with the decrease in medical prescriptions of Oxycodone as it is the illicit replacement drug, Wicentowich said.
On the street, the drug sells between $40 and $60 per individual dose, which is 0.5 grams or one-tenth (0.1) of a teaspoon. Therefore, three grams of fentanyl equates to little more than half a teaspoon but delivers, in theory, six doses.
“It is very important for the police to pursue this kind of drug investigation due to the potential harm this drug has on individual community members,” explained Wicentowich.
“Each RCMP officer now carries two individual doses of Narcan Nasal Spray which help counteract a potentially deadly overdose of fentanyl.”
He referred to an incident earlier this month whereby officers saved a person by administering naloxone, the only emergency treatment of opioid overdose in North America (Narcan is the brand name for naloxone).
On Sept. 6, police officers with the Trail and Greater District RCMP administered three doses of Narcan nasal spray to an individual who had overdosed on the drug near Gyro Park.
“The individual became non-responsive while speaking to the police after admitting to consuming fentanyl,” Wicentowich said.
“The police officers believed that this individual’s life was in jeopardy before they administered the Narcan.”
The emergency treatment revived the man who was then turned over to the care of Trail paramedics.
“Though this is a rare occurrence in Trail,” he added. “But it is common place in bigger cities.”
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid medically used to treat pain and together with other medications, for anesthesia. Sold on the street, fentanyl mimics the effects of heroin. It is much more toxic, however, than most other narcotics.
As far as criminal repercussions in these two recent cases, the 58-year old woman driver has charges pending.
The male driver, 37, was remanded into custody and was scheduled for provincial court in Rossland on Tuesday, Sept. 24. His female passenger was released on conditions and has a court date in October.
In addition to fentanyl, in this case, police seized a small amount of two other street drugs, ketamine and methamphetamine. Ketamine is used medically for sedation and methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant.
More police briefs:
Theft of marijuana plants
• Sept. 21, Trail and Greater District RCMP received a complaint that two marijuana plants were stolen from a yard in the 1900 block of Oak Street. The RCMP remind the public that it is the responsibility of the grower to hide cannabis plants from public view and to take reasonable security measures when producing outdoor cannabis plants. Growers can have their plants seized by police if they are visible from a public place, and face a $230 fine.
• Sept. 21, Trail and Greater District RCMP recovered a gaming system and virtual reality set in the 1300 block of Third Avenue. The RCMP would like to return these items to the owner. If you are the owner, contact the Trail detachment at 250.364.2566 with verification of ownership.
Theft from vehicle
• Sept. 21, Trail and Greater District RCMP received a report that 12 Christian music CDs were stolen from a vehicle in the 1900 block of Topping Street. The perpetrator cut through the convertible soft top of the vehicle.