Public Town Hall to discuss Sudbury's string of opioid-related deaths

A senior police officer who oversees the drug unit in Sudbury says police need help cracking down on fentanyl trafficking.

Police say 8 people were killed by opioids in a 15-day period in February

Sgt. Rick Waugh oversees Greater Sudbury Police Service's drug unit (Erik White/CBC)

A senior police officer who oversees the drug unit in Sudbury says police need help cracking down on fentanyl trafficking.

Staff Sergeant Rick Waugh will take part in a town hall Saturday about the opioid crisis.

Waugh says in the drug world, there's a code that people don't talk to police, but he says those who keep silent while others are killed by tainted drugs need to be held accountable.

"We just can't accept that, we just can't sit back and be silent any longer," Waugh said. "People have to start recognizing the threat this poses to our communities and we've got to start talking about it."

Waugh says in Sudbury, the numbers are staggering, On average, one person dies every 13 days because of opioids, while every three days a person nearly dies.

Over a 15-day period in February, Sudbury had eight opioid-related deaths, Waugh said.

In Timmins, police are dealing with three deaths in two days which they strongly suspect are linked to opioid use.

Investigators there have seized "purp" fentanyl and charged several people in connection with trafficking.

Waugh said the culture around drug use—  and how police investigate deaths— needs to change.

"Addictions have been around probably before you and I were born. We've always had a drug subculture," Waugh said.

"We've had almost 9,000 people die across Canada in the last two years so that's something we've never seen before.

And the difficult part for the police is doing the follow-up investigations with the coroner."

Waugh said the goal of police is to always find the source of the drug.

"If someone's sold the deceased a drug that they knew contained an opioid like fentanyl they know that drug could end that person's life," he said.

"So we always strive to determine the source of or who the trafficker is and that's really where our attention is in these deaths."

Other partners in Sudbury's Community Drug Strategy will join Waugh at a town hall at the Parkside Centre Saturday from 2:00 to 4:00.

Sudbury MPP Jamie West has organized the event as a follow-up to a similar event held last November.


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