Heroin finding new market on streets of Saskatoon

An old drug is finding a new market in Saskatoon.

Crystal meth dealers now selling to users

Heroin is getting sold to crystal meth users. (CBC)

Jordon Cooper says he always knew heroin was being used by addicts in Saskatoon.

Cooper has worked at two shelters in the city. There were heroin addicts who used both centres.

Jordon Cooper (CBC)
But it wasn't until last year, when he was out for an early Sunday morning walk down 2nd Avenue, that the drug's presence became truly obvious.

"They were lined up outside this apartment," he said. "I knew a few of the people [and I asked], 'what are you guys doing here?' Well, there's a guy that's got heroin inside."

More expensive than other drugs

Police said that the white powder has always been a small, but steady, part of the city's illicit drug scene. 

Inspector Jerome Engele said the main deterrent for addicts is the price. It costs about $100 for one-tenth of a gram, several times more expensive than, say, cocaine. But, he added that the drug is finding a new market.

Jerome Engele (CBC)
"Now that we have our crystal meth people, more of those users we're seeing are being involved in the heroin usage also," Engele said. 

People who are using crystal meth — an amphetamine — will sometimes turn to heroin to counteract the effects of the stimulant. These users will also consider other depressants, like morphine, to get the same desired effect.

All types of users

Cooper said that, in his experience, there is no typical heroin user.

This isn't something that we see in the mailstream very often, but I can tell you it has been found in the mailstream.- John Caines, a spokesperson with Canada Post

"People from all different classes, once they become addicted, they are addicted," he said. "The drug does not discriminate based on your money.

A Saskatoon man will be in court this month charged with trafficking heroin. He was caught last fall with a pound of the white powder.

He pleaded guilty to trafficking and is awaiting sentencing. He was arrested taking delivery of the drug when it arrived by parcel.

Engele said the drug enters Canada on the east or west coast and then makes its way inland. Sometimes, it's delivered by an individual. Other times, it comes through the mail. Canada Post is aware that drugs may be coming through the mail.

"This isn't something that we see in the mailstream very often, but I can tell you it has been found in the mailstream," said John Caines, a spokesperson with Canada Post.