TBPS hopes recent drug busts deter dealers

THUNDER BAY — City police have had a busy week, resulting in the seizure of several pounds of drugs, cash related to the drug trade and multiple weapons.

The investigations, three in total, took plenty of police resources, but it was time well spent, said Det.-Insp. Jeremy Pearson, discussing the latest busts on Wednesday at a media conference at Thunder Bay Police Service headquarters.

"These are independent investigations, time-consuming and thorough investigations that culminated in the seizures," Pearson said.

"You see before you not only a significant quantity of illicit drugs but also, most alarmingly, the two loaded handguns that were also seized. So we felt it was important not only to note the work that was being done but also to make the public aware that there are out-of-district players in the city."

All six people arrested in these recent incidents are from southern Ontario, specifically Ajax, Brampton, and Toronto.

The first incident occurred on May 14 on Hartland Street, where officers seized over $215,000 in illicit drugs and cash and arrested two people from Ajax.

The second incident happened on Frederica Street on May 16 with the assistance of the OPP's Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau. Investigators arrested three people, all from Toronto and collected suspected cocaine and fentanyl during their search warrant. Investigators also seized a loaded handgun during the incident.

On May 18, police identified and arrested a suspect who had a loaded handgun in their possession, along with suspected cocaine, crack cocaine, and fentanyl.

There's a huge demand for drugs in the city, Pearson said, adding it makes Thunder Bay a ripe market for these types of illegal activities. The money involved is also an attraction.

"There's a demand here in Thunder Bay because of our comparatively remote nature geographically; prices can be elevated," Pearson said.

"So there's a willing market and profit to be made and people who are of an 'entrepreneurial' mindset will go to where the money is a message that sends not only to the community but to the people.

"There is demand here. There are profits to be made."

Pearson also said getting a large supply of potentially deadly drugs off the streets of Thunder Bay is good for the community's well-being.

"I'm not telling tales out of school when we talk about the lethality of fentanyl, the number of fentanyl overdoses and opioid overdoses in general that we see in this community. It has a devastating impact on the community," he said.

"When you look at the microscopic amounts of fentanyl that can be deadly, and then you look at the amounts we've seized here, I mean, that is potentially dozens of deaths that may have been prevented."

During the Hartland Street arrests alone, police seized two kilograms of cocaine and half a kilogram of fentanyl.

"I hope that the community takes solace in the fact that we do have dedicated officers who are putting in the time and effort and have the skills and training to affect these sorts of results.

"In terms of those who would come to this community to sell drugs, who would bring firearms to our community, we hope that this possibly creates some second thoughts in terms of the profitability."

Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TBnewswatch.com