Photo: April 29 OPP Bracebridge Seizure
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On April 29th the Muskoka Crime Unit of the OPP charged two Bracebridge residents with 31 offences and seized thousands of dollars in Cocaine, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, over $30,000 in cash, a restricted handgun, a crossbow, 2 prohibited knives and ammunition including a stolen ATV. This bust comes just a few months after the November 2019 arrests from the Project Shoreham drug investigation which apprehended 14 Huntsville residents, 2 Port Sydney, 5 resided in Gravenhurst and 2 in Bracebridge. In total 23 out of 29 charged resided in Muskoka.
At the time of those arrests Huntsville Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant John-Paul Graham confirmed that the investigation which began in July was partially initiated following three Huntsville overdoses during the span of one weekend in May of 2019. The project involved two under cover police officers who infiltrated a criminal network.
In that interview Graham also noted there is a correlation between mental health and addiction and that police have shifted from just looking at the crime itself but more importantly the root cause of the crime.
"We are seeing more and more individuals who are desperate, that want help but can't break the habit. We see with the opioid crisis an increase of violence, assaults and property crimes are up," he said.
The sergeants words ring true once again with the recent arrests in Bracebridge. The latest Opioid statistics data available is from Jan to Sept 2019 and Ontario leads the country drastically in Opioid deaths with a total of 1,163 out of 2,913.
Muskoka Post caught up with Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith and asked how the municipality has been dealing with Opioid addiction and the news of the latest arrests.
Smith said he was thankful that the “OPP were able to safely arrest these individuals and remove a significant quantity of drugs from our community. Sadly this is not an isolated incident and we will continue to rely on the good work of police to investigate and take action when needed.
Smaller municipalities are not typically equipped with the expertise or resources required to deal directly with matters of addiction, however, we are thankful for the efforts of the Canadian Mental Health Association, which offers services in Bracebridge as well as other online and telephone based supports, such as Connex Ontario. More local resources would be most welcome,” he said.
Additionally Smith is chair of an Ontario municipal Health Task Force which has
provided the provincial government with a policy paper containing recommendations which municipalities and the province can work on together. This task force also provided recommendations to the province focusing specifically on the opioid emergency.