Demand and supply
As this week’s Nunatsiaq News went to press this week, a small army of RCMP members were still sifting through a mountain of evidence produced by what may the largest drug trafficking investigation ever conducted in the Northwest Territories.
At least twenty-three Iqaluit residents have been, or are about to be arrested and charged with a range of drug trafficking offences. At least six out-of-town residents, including a member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club, have also been arrested and charged.
For the first time, investigators are not only laying criminal charges. They’re using recently passed federal legislation to sieze property alleged to have been acquired by means of profits earned through drug trafficking. Those properties include Iqaluit’s Snack restaurant, an adjacent candy store, and three houses in Iqaluit.
The dramatic early morning raids on March 24 that produced all those arrests will inevitably be followed by a series of lengthy and complex court hearings. Some of the accused may end up aquitted, while others may not.
But regardless of who is found guilty or not guilty, one thing is clear. Drug trafficking in the Baffin region is not a small-time business pursued by adventurous amateurs. It’s a big-time business that’s making some people rich.
We hear many complaints these days about how government cut-backs and increased rents and high prices are causing cash shortages and driving numerous people into poverty. And yet there appears to be no shortage of cash to spend on drugs.
Large numbers of people would rather give their money to criminals selling drugs than spend it on rent, clothing and food for their children.
RCMP members who worked on this case deserve to be applauded for their hard work. But it’s the thousands of drug users in the region who have made that work necessary. JB