Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Canada a hotbed of meth production, convicted marijuana trafficker says

Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- A convicted drug trafficker is claiming that Canada is an international leader in the production of crystal meth and there is very little that police can do to combat the problem.

"World production is going to centre around Canada," said Alex Hanson in an interview with CTV News. "Everything is being sent here and it is being shipped off worldwide. And it is also being sold in our own country. So Canada is looking pretty much like the bad guy at this point."

Mr. Hanson said he approached CTV News to "tell the truth" about the growing production of crystal meth, even if he is at risk of being hurt or charged criminally. "I believe this is just wrong."

The 31-year-old Vancouver resident has a relatively minor criminal record. He received a 24-month sentence in the U.S. in February of 2002, after admitting to trying to smuggle about 50 kilograms of marijuana in a boat. Mr. Hanson has also been convicted of assault and has another trial on an assault charge coming up in Vancouver in August.

However, Mr. Hanson said he has also been involved as a "scientific adviser" in the production of crystal meth. Documents obtained by CTV indicate he was observed by the RCMP in an ecstasy and crystal meth investigation called Project Emper. No charges were filed against Mr. Hanson in that investigation.

"I don't think we have a functioning police force. How can I exist otherwise?" Mr. Hanson said. "Police keep guys under surveillance for extended periods of time, snapping pictures and collecting data, but nothing ever gets done.

"Criminals have free rein in Canada. There is no doubt about it. This is the most awesome place on Earth if you want to run your criminal organization on a global scale."

Unlike the U.S., where crystal meth labs are more of a "mom and pop" operation, Mr. Hanson said the drug production is much more centralized in Canada. "There are at least 50 guys that I would say at my level are capable of making just incredible amounts of money." Mr. Hanson added that it is not difficult to generate as much as $1-million per month in revenue and, for the right fee, the necessary chemicals can be smuggled into Canada in containers at the Port of Vancouver.

The RCMP is not discounting many of Mr. Hanson's allegations. Sergeant Scott Rintoul said there are about 100 crystal meth labs in Canada and about two-thirds of them are located in B.C. The member of the RCMP's Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service said that about 50 drug operations in the country could be described as "super labs."

"We are not seeing small-scale production. They are all large-scale labs accessing their chemicals in bulk," Sgt. Rintoul said.

The officer said investigators do not target street dealers, and it may take "months and months" for police to build a case against senior drug traffickers. "We are doing what we can, within the law."

By Shannon Kari


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