By Julian Sher, Globe and Mail, June 23, 2100
The annual UN drug report singles out Canada as a leading exporter of meth to the United States, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico and Jamaica.
In addition, “the resurgence” of ecstasy use south of the border “was fuelled by the manufacture [of ecstasy] in Canada and subsequent smuggling,” according to the report which is based on global police, government and health records.
“For years we have pointed the finger at Colombia and Afghanistan,” said Thomas Pietschmann, of the threat analysis section of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime. “But the same kind of standard should apply to Western countries like Canada.”
The UN report says Canadian authorities busted a dozen ecstasy labs and 23 meth labs in 2009 – the latest year for which statistics are available – and seized close to half a metric ton of ecstasy.
Canada is seen as having lax control over the import and domestic trade of precursor chemicals such as pseudoephedrine. Combined with proximity to the huge U.S. market and easy access to well-established smuggling routes to Asia and Australia, that makes for a profitable nexus of crime.
Superintendent Brian Cantera, who heads the RCMP’s drug squad in B.C., said organized crime groups in Canada with “familial ties” to India and China can bring in huge quantities of these chemicals needed to “cook” the synthetic drugs in underground laboratories set up across Canada.
So much, once again, for the stereotype of Canada as that sweet, innocent and "above-the-fray" of all the various international criminal activities. Canada was supposed to be squeeky clean, morally upright, and criminally innocent and we certainly would not have citizens engaged in the illicit drug trade that is such a menace around the world.
Turns out, such naivety is not borne out by the facts. Turns out, right up there with Columbia and Afghanistan, the heroin capital of the world, that's Canada manufacturing ecstacy and methamphetamines and then shipping those illicit and illegal and dangerous chemicals into a very fertile and receptive market in the United States and around the world.
(More from the Sher piece above)
And unlike the small “stove-top” meth operations that are typical in the U.S., “the labs we find here in Canada are large-scale productions, using very sophisticated equipment,” said Sergeant Doug Culver, who heads the RCMP’s synthetic drug initiative in Ottawa.
The transformation of Canada from a drug-importing country to a major export centre also poses new challenges to police, traditionally focused on uncovering huge shipments of illicit cargoes into the country or tracking domestic sales.
“The biggest difference is now we’re the source country. That changes the dynamics tenfold,” said Sgt. Hill. “We need a new game plan here. We need to start configuring a new strategy that says: Not acceptable. Not in our backyard. Not in our country.”
Canada has begun take action to clean up the synthetic drug trade – and its reputation. On Thursday, a new law came into force making it illegal to possess the chemicals and equipment that could be used to make these drugs.
The illicit drug trade gives globalization a new stage and new players for that stage. Still, however, the drama being played out on that stage is one based entirely on greed and the certainty that vulnerable people will purchase whatever takes the pain of their vulnerability away even for a short time. And for that purchase they will do almost anything to find the cash to make the transaction, including engaging in the illicit sale of those very chemical substances.