Spike in crystal meth reports heightens concerns

Fruitvale men, charged with possession, appeared in Rossland court Monday

Police say there’s been a spike of people in custody who are under the influence of something more than alcohol or pot.

“We get these strange calls from people who are being paranoid and think they are being followed,” says Cpl. Darryl Orr from the Greater Trail RCMP detachment. “Or they have taken their clothes off and are running around smashing through windows and doing really crazy things.”

He says the calls lead to people who are high on methamphetamine, commonly referred to as crystal meth.

“They have a distinct odour on their skin because of all the chemicals coming out,” Orr explained. “And a distinct appearance, they’ll be clammy and sweaty because they’ve been up for a couple of days without food, drink or sleep.”

Orr’s words follow a recent drug bust on the highway between Rossland and Trail when the Trail RCMP General Duty Section seized a substantial amount of crystal meth and heroin.

Dustin Zier and Jordan Harfman of Fruitvale, appeared in Rossland Provincial Court Monday to face drug trafficking charges, possession of two grams of black tar heroin and over 20 grams of methamphetamine as well as probation breaches.

Both men, known to the police, were released with conditions that include reporting to probation, keeping the peace and being of good behaviour, said Orr.

The duo is scheduled to appear in court in October.

The RCMP suspect the crystal meth was to be sold locally, and Orr clarified the amount seized is of significant street value.

“Meth is sold by the point,” he explained. “Every point is a dose.”

With 10 points in one gram of the drug, and about 21 grams confiscated, Orr said that’s 210 people that could conceivably gotten high.

Each point costs $15 to $20 which on the street, is considered relatively cheap to purchase.

“The person might buy two or three points but not use them all at once, but over the course of 12-to-24 hours,” he explained.

“So 15 or 20 bucks will get someone high for eight or 12 hours. Lots of people go for days on binges without eating or drinking and end up in the hospital,” Orr added. “And some die.”

The drug is commonly manufactured in illegal, hidden laboratories, mixing various forms of amphetamine (another stimulant drug) or derivatives with other chemicals to boost its potency. Common pills for cold remedies are often used as the basis for the production. The meth “cook” extracts ingredients from those pills and to increase its strength combines the substance with chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel and antifreeze.

Orr says the local seizure doesn’t mean the drug is being made locally, rather its most likely bought in larger cities.

“That’s where you find the labs, are in the bigger centres,” he said. “That’s not saying there isn’t the possibilty of a lab here, but I think we’d be seeing a steady stream of calls of people on crystal meth. We are not getting that, but we are encountering the drug more than normal.”

He says black tar heroin is also sold in point, but isn’t commonly seen in the area.

“We’ve been hearing about it coming up more on the street level than actual complaints or seizures,” he said. “What we seized is significant. Two grams is 20 doses and (on the street) it’s $40 to $60 dollars for one point.”

Orr mentioned that one pill, suspected to be fentanyl, was also uncovered during the arrest that took place Friday night at about 8 p.m.

“The big thing we’ve been hearing about causing deaths across Canada is Fentanyl pills,” he explained. “We’ve had a few overdoses and a few overdoses we’ve suspected to be Fentanyl,” Orr added. “But we always have to wait for toxicology and that takes a long time. We believe the pill we seized in this last bust was Fentanyl, but it has to be sent to the lab.”

The Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment warned the public about Fentanyl last October following a sudden death in East Trail and another who overdosed on the drug but survived.

The BC Coroner Service confirmed the 41-year old male died of a Fentanyl overdose.

Fentanyl is an opiate used as a pain killer and for anaesthesia, and medically, is a more potent alternative to morphine.