Whitehorse Daily Star

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EVIDENCE CONFISCATED – Shown here June 8 are drugs and cash the RCMP seized in the territory. Five organized crime networks are active in the Yukon, says the report released Tuesday.

Costs will rise as drug trade grows: report

Illicit drugs, overwhelmingly provided by five organized crime networks, are estimated to have cost the Yukon $113 million in 2021, says a report released Tuesday afternoon. That estimate could total $127 million by the end of 2023.

By Whitehorse Star on July 27, 2022

Illicit drugs, overwhelmingly provided by five organized crime networks, are estimated to have cost the Yukon $113 million in 2021, says a report released Tuesday afternoon. That estimate could total $127 million by the end of 2023.

As well, in 2021, illicit drug overdose-related deaths in the territory occurred at a pace of 48.4 per 100,000 people, the report notes – the highest rate in Canada.

“This is significantly higher than the Canada-wide average of 19.4 and even the British Columbia average at 42.8, the previous high across the country,” says an executive summary of the research.

Twenty-four Yukoners were the victims of opioid-related deaths in 2021 —more than double the number in 2020.

In March of this year, chief coroner Heather Jones said nine deaths had been attributed to opioids between Jan. 5 and Feb. 22. At that time, a 10th death was awaiting a toxicological analysis.

The report released Tuesday is entitled Organized Crime in Yukon: An Examination of Criminal Networks and the Associated Impact.

It analyzes criminal activity in the territory which, the Yukon’s RCMP said, “provides important information with respect to guiding future enforcement activities.”

“Yukon is no longer exempt from the growing opioid crisis seen across Canada,” it says.

“A conservative estimate of dependent opioid users in Yukon is 161 individuals– but could be as high as 430 dependent users.”

The report is current to May 2021 with respect to organized crime networks and December 2021 vis-à-vis harm, costs and impacts.

The effects of illicit drugs in the Yukon, the report says, is significant as a result of:

  • illicit drug overdose related deaths;

  • organized crime, whose members supply and operate most of the illicit drug activity; and

  • rising costs and harms to the community from illicit drugs.

“Organized crime in Yukon is responsible for more harm than which occurs from alcohol and tobacco,” the report has found.

The main costs and harms involving illicit drugs include lost productivity – years a person can’t work as a result of an opioid overdose death or injury.

In 2021, drug-related lost productivity is estimated to have cost the Yukon $54 million, or the equivalent of $1,253.05 per person.

Opioids, including fentanyl, as well as cocaine and benzodiazepines, were most commonly linked to overdose deaths.

Illicit drugs are believed to have overtaken alcohol as the most significant contributor to early deaths in Canada.

Organized crime, both in the Yukon and surrounding provinces, has persisted and is becoming entrenched, the report says.

“There are at least five organized crime networks operating in Yukon, consisting of more than 250 individuals located within, and outside of, Yukon.

“In 2021, it is estimated that organized crime generated $12.5 million from trafficking crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and opioids.

“An estimated $1.5 million of that profit was used for other criminal activity, such as violence, weapons trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking,” the document reports.

“The criminal proceeds made from the expanding synthetic opioid market help organized crime maintain control in Yukon, creating more dependent users in more communities.”

Organized crime located outside of, but affecting, the Yukon is primarily associated with B.C.’s Lower Mainland, “which escalates the complexity of the opioid crisis in Yukon,” the report says.

“Organized crime activity in illicit drugs creates significant costs for the community with little regard for health or human life. This cost will continue to rise as illicit drug activity grows.”

Illicit drugs may cost the Yukon up to $127 million by the end of 2023, the research predicts. Opioid-related costs would account for $90 million of that.

The Yukon occupies a unique place amongst the Canadian geographic landscape, being both a vast and remote space but also sharing an international border with the United States, the report observes.

“Assessing the impacts of illicit and licit drugs on the community is contextualized by the above factors. Sharing a border with Alaska increases the potential for international drug trafficking, while the remoteness impacts the size and scope of the criminal markets and even the availability or use rates for certain substances,” the document adds.

“These factors additionally contribute to a potentially volatile illicit drug marketplace with significant shifts in drug toxicity and chemical composition.”

Provinces and territories are attempting to offset and mitigate these harms through access to services, increases in paramedics and ambulances, availability of naloxone kits and simple visibility, the report points out.

“Yukon is no different, and has increased access to services, availability of naloxone kits and opened safe consumption sites, among other efforts.

“Mitigation is only a partial solution, and the impacts of illicit drugs on Yukon then cannot be understated.

“It is with this in mind that this report attempts to measure, in a relative capacity, the harms associated with illicit drugs in Yukon and the direct role of organized crime.

“The content of this report is representative of the public safety environment in Yukon in the context of organized crime; the values presented in this report provide a relative measure of cost and are not considered absolute nor exhaustive.”

“While police and many Yukoners have for some time noted, anecdotally, the impact the drug trade has had on the quality of life for Yukon communities, this report clearfixly identifies the extent and the impact in measurable terms,” said Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard, commanding officer of the Yukon RCMP.

“As indicated in the report, illicit drugs, and opioids in particular, have both a human and financial impact,” Sheppard added.

“As a key pillar of Yukon’s harm reduction strategy, RCMP in Yukon will continue to work with local partners to minimize this impact and reduce the opportunities for criminal organizations to introduce toxic drugs to Yukon communities through targeted enforcement activities.”

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the RCMP “have worked continuously to combat the toxic drug supply in the Yukon, including the creation of a specialized Crime Reduction Unit to target trafficking and organized criminal group activity.

“Enforcement is an important aspect of our territory’s broader response to the Substance Use Health Emergency, and the Government of Yukon will continue to support ongoing policing efforts,”  McPhee said.

The report’s data “will help to inform our strategies to counter the harms of the illicit drug trade and to reduce the harms to people who use drugs, their families, and our communities,” the minister added.

“The report also shows us some of the many impacts this crisis has had on all Yukoners.

“We will continue working with the Yukon RCMP and our community partners to address the challenges.”

Data for the report were sourced internally from Criminal Intelligence Service of British Columbia/Yukon Territory (CISBC/YT) collection on serious and organized crime and externally from academic and government resources.

External data emerged from McFadden’s 2016 New Zealand Drug Harm Index, the B.C. coroner’s service, Yukon’s Coroner’s service, the Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drug’s survey, the Canadian Substance Use Cost and Harms, the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR), the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the 2016 and 2021 Canadian Censuses and various academic sources.

The CISBC/YT is a law enforcement intelligence agency comprised of employees from municipal, provincial, and federal law enforcement bodies.

The agency completes threat assessments specific to organized crime, for the purpose of providing senior executives with intelligence to support combatting organized crime at the provincial / territorial level. CISBC/YT has provided the report to the Yukon RCMP.

Comments (23)

Up 0 Down 0

Apex Parasite on Aug 3, 2022 at 7:15 am

Perhaps if the drugs weren't "illicit" we wouldn't have such a problem with illicit drugs.

Perhaps if those who do not imbibe in said illicit drugs did not so harshly judge those who do we could have a conversation without finger pointing and eye rolling.

Perhaps if the drugs were not vilified out of fear and ignorance we could reach a place where a choice could be made that did not include turning to black market while the war on drugs fights the same losing battle it has been fighting for decades and decades.

Perhaps if those that don't know did not peer down from lofty heights in judgement of those that do, we could reach a place where I could drop into a dispensary and grab a gram of blow for a down home Saturday night without the fear that it has been stepped on by unscrupulous sorts. (for those not in the know "stepped on" means the drug has been cut by other substances to increase the profits). Take the profit motive out of the supply.

Perhaps if the only supply were not ganstas and thugs there would not be the aura of walking on the dark side and thusly the image of "being bad" would not be a thing.

The problem is that the drugs are illicit. The problem has been going on for decades with no end in sight. Time to try thinking outside of your judgy little boxes.

I can go to the LC and buy as much vodka as I can carry and reach a state of monumentally poor judgment and nobody blinks an eye. Partake of a line or two and you're a junkie and represent everything inherently wrong with the species.

Up 2 Down 3

Just Sayin' on Aug 2, 2022 at 8:36 am

You know it is easy to sit here and blame others, but no one wants to study the root cause of drugs, why are people taking them? Why are they willing to risk potential death for that rush?

Up 9 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Aug 1, 2022 at 4:04 pm

As our economy crashes down it is believed more and more people will become self-employed as drug dealers as a profession. It is becoming more attractive as it has been proven many times that if you get caught- no big deal, say you're sorry and out you go to get back to business. There are other perks as well:
There does not appear to be any supply-chain issues for drugs compared to say a box of oranges.
Hard times create more customers looking for something to help tune out their problems, so there is growth potential to your customer base.
Not much down side when you look at the bigger picture. It's a job that pays much better than many alternatives in the legal context. The hours are yours to set, Storefront optional, and no employees unless you have greater ambitions. Like 50 Cent rapped into our children's ears: Get rich or die trying.
Yes many acquire guns as a part of this enterprise and suffer some real consequences when dealing with competitors for the same market.
It's a job.

Up 3 Down 3

Do better on Aug 1, 2022 at 2:50 pm

I’ve read a few of your posts now where you ask the very relevant question (paraphrased here): “at what point do we expect someone with a substance use disorder to take accountability?” If I were to answer I’d say every time. However we must appreciate that all SUDs are illnesses and as such if someone afflicted with this illness “can’t”, we also need to appreciate that this is the pathology of a disorder that very few people recover from. Does it not make sense to approach individuals with the same compassion and empathy that we afford individuals with other diseases? I mean it’s not like you’ll look at someone who died from cancer and be all “well, if only the took accountability…”. Often times supporting someone with an SUD is a matter of managing behaviours and reducing associated harm. It’s about supporting them the best we can through evidence based practices and giving them the best chance of recovery that we can.

Up 3 Down 1

You are not your brothers keeper! on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:00 am

Well JC on Jul 28, 2022 at 7:34 am:

If there is any truth to the rumour that humans are conscious thinking individuals you would be wrong. If the government puts a sign to stay away from the cliffs edge, danger, and your buddy bets you $50 dollars that you won’t walk behind the sign but you do, falling 10 metres and breaking an arm, a leg, and a rib… Who is responsible for the injuries?

Don’t do stupid shyt and don’t get hurt.

Up 22 Down 3

moe on Jul 29, 2022 at 5:40 pm

Bla bla bla bla bla, and not a word about the demographics of these 5 crime groups. One would assume one of them was the two cab companies who were shut down.

Out with it. What is going on in our town and communities. I'm getting fed up with the games. 'Oooo - can't say that.'

If people are coming to Canada to be drug dealers, or running businesses downtown as fronts for drug dealing, they should be shut the bleep down with no hesitation.

Up 3 Down 2

bonanzajoe on Jul 28, 2022 at 8:41 pm

Patti Eyre on Jul 27, 2022. Thanks for finally straightening us out. Had us worried there for a bit.

Up 3 Down 13

Mitch on Jul 28, 2022 at 1:54 pm

@JC - I think I have made it pretty clear that my opinion is informed. I' m therefore, not going to judge you today. Perhaps you have also dealt with this on a deeply personal level, or lost someone close to you. For that, I can accept your opinion and for the fact that you truly mean well. My question is this: At what point will you have to assess your own enablement and at what point will you realize that beating addiction, as in all of the life we live, takes some hard work sometimes, without all the resources? Beating addiction is but the tip of the iceberg, it is what you have to figure out after that should be our allocation of resources and concern. Addictions cannot be quit, they need to be replaced with purpose and self acceptance of mistakes made. I hope you expand your point of view for the sake of everyone you might help, lest you cause harm in the attempt. I say this not just of addiction, but of dicourse and I am certainly not perfect myself. You can give all the government regulated drugs you want, what people need is to be acknowledged and understood, not presumption and from what I read, you are as guilty as any. Take care

Up 8 Down 7

MITCH on Jul 28, 2022 at 11:36 am

@ Yukoner - You have an outdated view of drug abuse, the majority of users these days are gainfully employed, at least at first. Judges, Doctors, politicians, business owners, anyone can pick up a drug addiction when the primary drug of concern was prescribed by healthcare Canada and big pharma. But 120 million ought to fix BC's woes, where most of our drugs are coming in from, right? Up one highway or through one airport...when legal drugs invade a larger market, you should be concerned when they also want to regulate them, for your own good...as in, you'd look good dead in the ground and your property would look good with a condo on it, full of immigrants, come to replace you until their worth to this government has expired; At which point, they will addict them as well and wash, rinse, repeat.

Up 23 Down 5

Barbara on Jul 28, 2022 at 9:01 am

This important report neglected to factor in the tax dollars we pay to the cops, border guards, elected officials and judges, as well as the leeches who make a handsome living handing out drugs, overdose kits, housing, legal representation and detoxification, victim, immigration and counseling services.

Up 25 Down 12

AdmiralA$$ on Jul 28, 2022 at 7:56 am

Millions? Pinch pennies compared to the trillion the Libranos have spent in 2021 alone. Or the 2 billions they forged and sent here to get spread around corrupt upper management. Who's the largest criminal organization in Canada? Our own government forging its own currency and enriching themselves. All while traffickers move drugs and people across our boarders unimpeded. Let's have a better look at the criminals in office here, might slow down the criminal kick backs going on.

Up 12 Down 19

JC on Jul 28, 2022 at 7:34 am

Do you think harsher sentences removes the profit motive? Trafficking could come with a life sentence and it wouldn't change a thing.

You people don't try to understand things, you just think hurting people more will stop them from doing bad things, and it really shows how unequipped you are to navigate this.

Up 10 Down 10

Patti Eyre on Jul 27, 2022 at 11:01 pm

I have 3 kids, I smoke a little pot here and there, big deal! I’m not addicted and don’t feel compelled, but sometimes when I want to unwind why not?

Up 17 Down 2

bonanzajoe on Jul 27, 2022 at 8:37 pm

But hey, letting the perps out on bail, is the right way to solve this problem. Right?

Up 10 Down 1

Jeff Donaldson on Jul 27, 2022 at 6:01 pm

It is called Sweep and Clear!

Up 27 Down 4

Tammy on Jul 27, 2022 at 5:36 pm

The article states..."There are at least five organized crime networks operating in Yukon, consisting of more than 250 individuals located within, and outside of, Yukon." The RCMP obviously know the individuals if they can supply a number. How about locking these people up. Make their names public. Make their life difficult. These people are murders....therefore they have no rights.

Up 79 Down 7

Thomas Brewer on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:47 pm

While the government can emphasize active enforcement to the RCMP, the other part of the equation is sentencing. Our soft, Liberal appointed judiciary needs to stop taking pity on the poor drug dealers and hammer down serious sentences and reduce the bonus 1.5x or 2x time served prior to conviction - sending these despicable scumbags to the crowbar hotel for longer and longer stints.

Up 89 Down 9

yukoner on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:45 pm

"The main costs and harms involving illicit drugs include lost productivity – years a person can’t work as a result of an opioid overdose death or injury." Sorry, but i argue that 90% of hard-core users are not, and never have been, working, nor did they ever contribute to society in a meaningful way. It is quite the opposite actually, utilizing public services, from SA to ER, and costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands.

Up 30 Down 18

Juniper Jackson on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:44 pm

The government can hardly afford to let that kind of money go to absolute strangers.. better legalize everything. ASAP. Like, yesterday. A funeral or 20 is still a lot cheaper than all that money going to organized crime, when it could be going to (un) organized government. Oh..and pot isn't addictive, and pigs fly too.

Up 61 Down 4

Al on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Enforcement - yes. Better yet would be a judicial system that is in tune and works in parallel with enforcement instead of pampering to the drug thugs. No bail along with mandatory sentences - no exceptions. Unfortunately, as has been stated here many times in this forum, it is not going to happen. It is one of the big pieces of the puzzle that is missing. Once that is in place then we shall see a reduction in crime. Until then it is the status quo along with an ever increase in drug trafficking. The courts MUST take a much stronger stand and support the efforts of those enforcing the laws of the land. Earn the big money you are being paid to protect the citizens.

Up 33 Down 3

Jeff Bikaboom on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:21 pm

"Illicit drugs, overwhelmingly provided by five organized crime networks, are estimated to have cost the Yukon $113 million in 2021"

In 2021, or as of 2021?
It would be interesting to see where the funds went so the public can gauge the effectiveness of their money spent.

Up 62 Down 5

Richard Smith on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:16 pm

The RCMP and McPhee were involved in creating the "Crime Reduction Unit"

A lot of good that will do when, a few weeks ago, two individuals were caught red-handed with an illegal loaded weapon and large amount of fentenyl - one was released and the other will probably get a slap on the wrist.

That useless court decision should have been a Pearl Harbor type of rallying war cry against the lienient courts.
Instead, not a peep from McPhee or Silver.

Up 52 Down 6

Drug Dealers are People Too! on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:07 pm

It’s a good thing Judges don’t impose any real consequences such as jail or the price tag for the drug trade would be much higher. Maybe Judges should start mandating clients to an Ethical Drug Dealers Workshop or two:

Don’t get high on your own supply
Don’t kill your customers with bad drugs
Don’t sell to government workers as they cannot be both regulators and consumers too - Conflict of interest for sure
Don’t step on your product - Purity sells
Know exactly what you are supplying - Provide a list of ingredients FFS!
Have a referral source for when you run out - No jonesing certified supplier

Get creative! Ethical Drug Dealers unite!

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