RCMP in Fort Smith say they need more information from residents to help catch “big players” in the town’s drug-dealing industry.
Much of the focus on drugs in the South Slave has fallen on Hay River, where six drug-poisoning deaths were reported in the past year and a public health campaign has begun.
On Tuesday this week, following a report from Fort Smith detachment commander Sgt Cagri Yilmaz, Councillor Mike Couvrette questioned how his town is being affected by the same issue.
“Drug trafficking and related instances in communities the same size and same demographics as Fort Smith seem to be dramatically increasing, and I don’t seem to be experiencing that here,” Couvrette said.
“My question is, is the local detachment receiving a lot of feedback and information from the public to assist in countering the trafficking?”
“No,” Yilmaz responded. “I wish we had more information from the public.”
In the next few weeks, the officer said, he hopes one of the detachment’s formal priorities for the new financial year can be changed to directly address drugs in the community.
At the moment, the detachment’s stated priorities – agreed upon with the town – are road safety, police-community relationships, and reconciliation and youth.
“I feel it’s something that we should be focusing on for the next fiscal year,” Yilmaz said of drug trafficking.
“I can tell you that we’ve arrested a gentleman with cocaine on his person, with a scale, cellphone and money. So we do enforcement in regards to drugs. I would like to put a lot more efforts into it. There’s some big players in this town.
“Hopefully a lot of people are listening to this. They can come forward. It’s anonymous, and we’ll just use their information.”
Yilmaz’s report also noted that eight times as many prisoners were held in Fort Smith RCMP cells in February 2023 compared to last year – 22 prisoners last month versus three in February 2022.
“This is explained by a crime reduction initiative, by completing compliance checks on habitual offenders, as well as searching for individuals who are the subject of warrants for their arrest,” the report stated.