Nelson police took note of two violent episodes in Castlegar earlier this week, both believed to be related to methamphetamine use — a drug that’s started appearing on Nelson streets.
Deputy Chief Paul Burkart with Nelson Police Department said his officers encounter people under the influence of meth more than they used to.
“Most communities in the Kootenays have seen an increased use of the hard core drugs over the past number of years,” he said. “Nelson has not been exposed to that problem to the same extent as many of the communities. This however is slowly changing.”
In an undercover sting operation last summer, a total of fifteen individuals were charged with trafficking and trafficking related offences. During this operation, marijuana, cocaine, GHB, morphine, ketamine, ecstasy, LSD (acid) and methamphetamine were found.
“Although some of these drugs have been in and around Nelson for years, we were surprised by some of the types of drugs that were available and the ease in which our operators were able to purchase these drugs,” said Burkart. “And although marijuana is on the list, over 80 per cent of the charges laid were associated to the harder drugs.”
“And this is the first time in the history of our many drug operations undertaken by our department that we have purchased methamphetamines,” he said.
The first incident occurring in Castlegar happened at 5:30 a.m. on February 16. Police were called to the West Kootenay Airport because of a man carrying a pipe and blanket acting violently toward people in the parking lot.
“Before police arrived, another man drove into the parking lot and opened his passenger side window to speak to the male,” described RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew. “The male lunged into the passenger side of the truck and stabbed the driver in the face with metal wire snips, causing serious injury.”
When the victim exited his vehicle, the suspect got into the driver’s seat. The original complainant saw that the man appeared to be stealing the victim’s truck so he rammed the front with his own vehicle to stop the suspect from fleeing.
“The vehicle began rolling down the hill, and struck the police car as the officer arrived,” reported Mathew.
The 63-year-old man who was stabbed was transported to Kelowna hospital with serious facial injuries.
Further investigation revealed that 10 vehicles parked at the airport had been broken into and/or damaged. A 28-year-old Castlegar man, believed to be under the influence of drugs, appeared in court facing several charges stemming from the incident.
Burkart flew out of the Castlegar airport the day after the incident. He said people were still talking about the episode.
“Meth does bring that kind of behaviour. This is probably someone who is breaking into vehicles to get money or valuables to sell for drugs. When he’s confronted, he uses a weapon to try and get away,” he said.
A few days later, a “sudden rampage” occurred in Castlegar’s downtown.
A 37-year-old Lillooet man who was also believed to be under the influence of drugs was arrested after an incident in the early evening hours on February 18.
“RCMP received several calls of someone in the neighbourhood driving a vehicle intentionally into cars that were parked in peoples’ driveways,” said Sgt. Mathew. “The male driver then abandoned his car on a lawn and was standing nearby. When a few people tried to approach him, he pulled a knife and waved them off.”
When Police arrived, the male still had the knife in his possession that he eventually dropped. After a “significant” struggle, he was taken into custody.
Drugs in possession, including meth, were seized.
Methamphetamine or meth is a synthetic drug that can cause anxiety, irritability, aggression and paranoia in high doses. It is highly addictive.
Burkart said if these “toilet drugs” are showing up in Nelson, there is reason to be concerned.
“Meth brings along with it a whole new set of problems,” he said. “Meth is extremely addictive and its users can build up a tolerance very quickly. As such, the user needs to use more and more to get the high they are looking for.”
Another concern with meth is that a meth lab can appear anywhere. The items needed to produce meth can be found at your local hardware or big box store. The toxic remains of these labs will end up dumped in our communities once the cooks are finished.
“In Nelson we certainly have not been overrun by violent calls that can come with the use of meth and some of the harder drugs,” said Burkart. “But are we concerned – yes, as a police department we are concerned that these drugs are showing up.”