McGuinty Government Invests $2 Million To Combat Crystal Methamphetamine Operations



    Targeting Guns And Gangs, Organized Crime And Illegal Drugs

    STRATFORD, ON, June 25 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is investing
$2 million to help Ontario communities combat the production, trafficking and
use of crystal methamphetamine, Community Safety and Correctional Services
Minister Monte Kwinter announced today.
    "Crystal methamphetamine is a growing problem for many Ontario
communities," said Kwinter. "These specialized officers will help provide
expertise in safely dismantling methamphetamine labs and targeting the
criminal organizations that operate them."
    An increasing number of young people are using crystal methamphetamine,
commonly known as crystal meth. It is one of the most addictive street drugs
and among the hardest to treat. Users may suffer brain damage, including
memory impairment and drug induced psychosis. Crystal meth is also a danger to
the community as its production almost always involves organized crime with
ties to gun and gang activity. Furthermore, crystal meth labs are a safety
hazard in neighbourhoods as the chemicals used for the production of the drug
are toxic and explosive.
    The government is allocating $1.5 million to the Ontario Provincial
Police (OPP) for a team of nine OPP officers and one civilian as well as a new
fully-equipped response truck. The Office of the Fire Marshal will receive
half a million dollars to help meet the increased demands of fire and
explosion investigations resulting from the proliferation of crystal meth labs
as well as marijuana grow operations.
    "These additional resources the ministry is providing will enable the OPP
and our partners to be better able to attack the growing problem of crystal
meth labs right across the province," said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.
"The nine new officers will help us to identify and shut down these labs. The
end result will be increased safety and quality of life for all the people of
Ontario."
    "Crystal meth labs pose a significant health and safety risk to first
responders," said Ontario Fire Marshal Pat Burke. "This announcement by the
government will go a long way to reducing the number of labs in our
communities and reduce the risk of injury to our first responders."
    "Stratford and area has been at the leading edge of a growing problem
with local crystal meth users," said Perth-Middlesex MPP John Wilkinson. "An
unprecedented community response is focused on making Perth County a Meth Free
Zone. Today's announcement by Minister Kwinter shows the wisdom of investing
at both the local and provincial level to fight the menace of crystal meth."
    Crystal meth is a particular concern in Stratford and in surrounding
areas including Perth County. In addition to the response team, the Ontario
government announced funding of $1 million in the 2007 budget for the city of
Stratford to help tackle this problem through a community awareness and
education campaign, police enforcement initiatives and treatment. The OPP,
Stratford Police Service, Perth District Health Unit and Stratford Health
Services have worked together on this issue for several years and have a
wealth of experience and expertise upon which the province can draw.
    "I am confident that the new team of specially trained officers is the
right answer to help make Ontario a meth-free zone," Kwinter said.

    
    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca

    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

               MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT TAKES AIM AT GUNS AND GANGS,
                      ORGANIZED CRIME AND ILLEGAL DRUGS
    

    The McGuinty government is broadening its highly successful Guns and
Gangs project to combat violence and build safer communities for Ontario
citizens.

    Premier's Anti-Crime Package

    Building on the success of last year's $51-million provincewide
investment, and using the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy as a
model, the McGuinty government is investing $12 million to help more Ontario
communities target crime and violence. The new anti-crime package announced by
Premier McGuinty on June 6 will:

    
    -   Target Crystal Methamphetamine Labs ($2.0 Million)

        Illicit methamphetamine (crystal meth) labs pose health and safety
        risks to Ontario citizens. Since June 2006, six super labs have been
        dismantled in Ontario (Durham, Peel, Sault Ste. Marie area, Stokes
        Bay and Haliburton). The new team of specially trained officers will
        supplement the Ontario Provincial Police Drug Enforcement Section by
        providing expertise in dismantling crystal meth labs and targeting
        the criminal organizations that operate them. The Office of the Fire
        Marshal is also being given additional resources to meet the
        increasing demands for fire and explosion investigations and for the
        training and education of police and fire services resulting from the
        spread of crystal meth labs.

    -   Implement an Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy in Communities
        Outside Toronto ($6.3 Million)

        The government will invest $6.3 million in 2007 to support police
        services in Golden Horseshoe communities (Brantford, Halton,
        Hamilton, Niagara), Essex County (Amherstburg, LaSalle, Windsor),
        Durham, Kenora, London, Ottawa, Peel, Thunder Bay, Waterloo and York
        Region. These communities are developing local anti-crime initiatives
        based on the Toronto model.

    -   Create a Provincial Advisory Group on Marijuana Grow Operations
        ($800,000 in Annual Funding)

        The community safety hazards of marijuana grow operations call for
        dedicated resources. The new advisory group will develop methods to
        reduce the risks to public safety from marijuana grow operations.
        Through additional resources, the Office of the Fire Marshal will
        provide increased training to help reduce the risks to health and
        safety for police and fire services arising from marijuana grow
        operations.

    -   Expand the Ontario Provincial Police Asset Forfeiture Unit
        ($1.0 Million)

        This will enhance the capacity of the Ontario Provincial Police,
        working with municipal police to identify, locate, seize illegal
        gains from criminal organizations, and have them forfeited to the
        Crown.

    -   Improve Intelligence Gathering ($900,000)

        A new Intelligence Unit will help identify gang members and reduce
        the potential for criminal activity in Ontario.

    -   Provide Additional Support for Crown Attorneys ($1.4 Million)

        This support will improve response to gun crimes, with Crowns working
        with police from day one of an investigation on matters including
        seizures, wiretaps, search warrants and other investigative
        requirements.

    The McGuinty government is making significant investments to target crime
in Ontario. In 2006, the government introduced a $51-million provincewide Guns
and Gangs strategy that included a new operations centre and a broad range of
justice initiatives to cut down on crime.

    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Annette Phillips, Minister's Office, (416)
326-8265, (647) 205-6598 (cellular); Anthony Brown, Communications Branch,
(416) 314-7772

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