Twenty individuals are facing drug related charges and 29 individuals are facing charges in connection to stolen property, following a month-long project focused on applying pressure to street-level drug traffickers in an effort to suppress crime in Medicine Hat.
In response to a concerning trend related to increases in both drug activity and property crimes, the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) Organized Crimes Section (OCS) and Priority Street Crimes Unit (PSCU) joined forces for Operation “Suppression”, with the intent to quell the growing increase of criminality caused by the methamphetamine subculture.
The MHPS OCS is a combined forces special enforcement unit, comprised of MHPS, RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) team members working together to investigate, disrupt and dismantle organized and serious crime. In September, the OCS focused on targeting methamphetamine dealers, which resulted in; 20 individuals charged with 65 drug offences, and an estimated $20,000 worth of drugs removed from city streets.
For their part of the project, the MHPS Priority Street Crimes Unit (PSCU) focused on property offences, as well as offender accountability, the process by which an offender who is released from the courts on a criminal charge, is held accountable to court ordered conditions. This often entails curfew checks, searches or compliance with other conditions. Throughout the month the MHPS charged 29 individuals with possession of stolen property and 70 individuals with breach of court orders. An estimated total of $10,600 worth of property was recovered.
Another key component of Operation “Suppression” involved engaging the community through public safety messages, advising of the effectiveness of simple prevention activities, including removing keys, securing vehicles and ensuring property stored out of sight, which can have a significant impact on reducing crimes of opportunity. At the conclusion of each week, the MHPS would share with the community the number of vehicles that had been stolen during the previous week.
Throughout the month of September, there was a total of 17 vehicles stolen and four individuals charged in connection with vehicle thefts.
“A multi-pronged approach, targeting issues related to the drug culture is essential,” said MHPS Inspector Brent Secondiak, “as the damage caused by drug abuse and addiction results in wide spread community harm.”
While the month-long project has concluded, the MHPS and ALERT will continue their focus on addressing the increased opioid and methamphetamine use trend. “ALERT is committed to working alongside with Medicine Hat Police to address community concerns related to methamphetamine. This Operation and these arrests should send a strong warning to those that continue to inflict community harm by peddling this drug,” said ALERT Inspector Dave Dubnyk.
As of September 30, 2017 the MHPS has seized 2,009 grams of methamphetamine, which is in excess of the unprecedented amount seized in 2016 (1,474 grams), which was a 400% increase as compared to 2015 (369 grams).