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REALLY?! is this article about drugs or about gangs?

Gangsters, meth dealers target 12-year-olds in Abbotsford, B.C

April 27, 2010 by Capo · Leave a Comment

- Meth dealer paraphenalia -
VANCOUVER — Children younger than 12 in Abbotsford, B.C., are regularly using ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine.

It’s the result — according to police, counsellors and drug-use experts — of gangs targeting the sought-after market of children 14 years and younger.

Brian Gross, program director at IMPACT, an addiction and counselling centre in Abbotsford for youth between the ages of 12 and 24, said children in the community under 12 are actively using ecstasy.

“Absolutely. There are some that age who are using ecstasy . . . most of it has meth in it and we do a great deal to make kids understand that.”

Const. Ian MacDonald with the Abbotsford Police Department said there is a direct relationship between organized crime and drug distribution.

“We know who they’re marketing to. The only objective for organized crime is to make money and they don’t care who consumes their product,” he said.

Mark McLaughlin is the executive director of Crystal Meth British Columbia, a non-profit society educating youth about the dangers of methamphetamine drug use. McLaughlin said meth gets cut into other street drugs, such as marijuana and ecstasy.

“Any pill or powder can have meth in it. It can be sprayed on marijuana . . . as a way to introduce people to meth and get them addicted to (it).”

Leslie Braithwaite is an addiction and trauma counsellor and the program co-ordinator of the Abbotsford Addiction Centre; she said she is seeing more and more parents describing children with symptoms suggesting meth addiction coming in for counselling.

“(Children will say) ‘You know, it’s not really like a drug, it’s just marijuana.’ But it isn’t just marijuana anymore,” she said.

Half a dozen kids found unconscious in a Victoria-area park almost died from overdosing on meth and were hospitalized for three days, McLaughlin said.

“These were children in Grade 6, 7 and 8. When the pills were analyzed, they were found out to be 100 per cent meth, sold (to these kids) as ecstasy.”

Gross said the Victoria park incident isn’t a one-off occurrence.

“We are seeing kids younger than 12 (for counselling). It’s impossible to know exactly what they’re taking. . . . It isn’t an isolated incident. It’s happening (in Abbotsford).”

Children start taking drugs to be included, Gross said. “If there is a social group they want to belong to, and it involves drug use, they may be quite open to it. Kids want to belong,” he said.

Filmmaker Andree Cazabon battled drug and alcohol addiction as a youth in the late 1980s after being sexually abused when she was 12. Cazabon fell into gangs and juvenile prostitution as a method of coping with what happened to her.

The drug trade needs young people to flourish, and the ideal addict is between the ages of 12 and 15, because that is when a developing brain is most likely to be addicted, she said, adding drug education must target younger children to stop kids from using.

“If we want to do any kind of prevention, we have to go into Grades 4, 5 and 6,” Cazabon said. “Because by the time kids reach Grades 7 and 8 — for some of these kids, we’re talking about treatment.”

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