Crack Concerns Hit N.Shore
The following article is by Leo
Knight and appeared in the
North Shore News Wednesday, June 2, 1999.
WITH visions of Littleton,
Colorado, dancing in their minds, Coquitlam RCMP took no chances
last week when reports came through of a young man with a gun at
Terry Fox secondary school.
With an abundance of caution, the
Mounties secured the perimeter of the school then ordered the
building in total lock-down while they painstakingly searched
The incident began, in reality,
two days earlier when threats were made to a teenage female
student of the high school. The threats were met with violence by
friends of the girl who tracked down the purveyor of the threats
and gave him "what for."
The following day, far from being
chastened, the 19-year-old male returned to the school, nearly
ran down some kids in a crosswalk and ultimately threatened
another female student with a handgun gently placed at her
Enter the police.
But it was the reason for the
threats and the violence that startled many. The original girl
was threatened over a drug debt owed. Not for a bag of pot, but
for crack cocaine.
Crack, the insidious scourge of
American streets, long present on the streets of the Downtown
Eastside, had now made it to the burbs. On the same day Vancouver
police conducted another sweep of the "skids" following
the latest undercover "buy and bust" operation.
Thirty-three more warrants were issued for the arrest of crack
dealers on Hastings Street, virtually all of them refugee
claimants from Central America.
The prevalence of crack cocaine on
the streets of the Downtown Eastside comes as no surprise. The
latest announcement of the arrest sweep caused barely a flicker
of attention. We've seen it all before. But the appearance of
crack in the high schools of Coquitlam should cause us all to sit
up and pay attention. If it's available at Terry Fox it's
probably just as available at Carson Graham or Handsworth or
Sutherland or Sentinel.
Mounties in Coquitlam said they
began seeing the transition in the schools there as long as two
years ago. Its usage gradually built in the subsequent time.
The quality of B.C. hydroponic
marijuana has caused the price to rise dramatically. But crack
cocaine is cheap -- as little as $10 a rock. It's easily within
the financial reach of high school kids. Worse, it is probably
the most addictive of all illicit substances available on the
North Van Mounties say they
haven't seen too much of the stuff in the schools, yet. And
"yet" would seem to be the operative word. There are
known crack houses in North Vancouver and with the open markets
of the skids just a SeaBus ride away, it won't be long until
Coquitlam's experiences are mirrored here.
Doug Mackay-Dunn, a North Shore
school trustee and, in his other life, the staff sergeant who
oversees policing on the Downtown Eastside, says the police have
seen kids from North Shore schools on the so-called crack corners
in the city.
Mackay-Dunn says he is very
concerned about the potential availability of crack in our
schools. He said the RCMP are watching and the principals are
being vigilant. "The principals are aware of the danger and
are doing what they can to stop it," Mackay-Dunn said.
"To say there's no drugs in
our schools is wilful blindness. The situation needs to be worked
on before the problem becomes too great," he concluded.
White is trying to develop a
national drug plan to fight drug abuse. He is bringing out former
Canadian boxing heavyweight champion, George Chuvalo as the
keynote speaker. Chuvalo lost three of his sons to drug abuse and
now is a fierce campaigner for the war on drugs.
Enough is Enough; Drugs in School Canadian Press
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