BC’s epidemic of drug overdoses is impacting our youngest citizens. On Vancouver Island, for the second time in two months, RCMP is investigating a suspected drug overdose that claimed the life of a minor. Police say a 14-year-old Campbell River youth died last Saturday afternoon, and drugs appear to be the cause.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the young man that was lost,” Const. Maury Tyre said in a statement reported by CBC News.
Though they are not releasing further details, police are asking anyone with information that could help shed light on this tragedy to come forward immediately.
At the same time, a coroner’s inquest into the April 12th death of Victoria’s Allayah Thomas is still underway. At just 12 years of age, Thomas is believed to be the youngest overdose victim in BC. According to her mother, the pre-teen had experienced three overdoses before her death, but had been turned away from rehab because she wasn’t yet 14.
These kids’ deaths are yet another tragic reminder of BC’s ongoing illicit drug epidemic. The numbers are shocking.
According to the coroner’s service, an average of five people die of an overdose every day in BC. More than 7,000 people have died from toxic drugs since officials declared a public health emergency in 2016. Youth overdose deaths – those under 19 years of age – account for between one and two percent of total illicit overdose fatalities. So far, 2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year in BC, with 680 deaths to date, 108 of them on the Island.
Many drug dealers know they are selling potent, potentially lethal drugs.
On May 11 in BC Supreme Court in Nanaimo, Taygen Mitchell Edward Butler, 26, was sentenced to three years in a federal jail for drug trafficking.
Butler’s arrest followed a months-long investigation in 2018, during which time he sold a heroin-fentanyl mix to an undercover RCMP officer three times. As reported in the Nanaimo News Bulletin, on one occasion, Butler told her he had to “cut” his product because it was too potent. On another, he said he had to re-cut the drugs because “some of his buyers had overdosed.”
In late June of 2018, Butler met the officer a fourth time to sell drugs. That’s when he was arrested. RCMP seized two ounces of heroin-fentanyl mix at the scene. After searching his Crofton home, they found another 900 grams of methamphetamine, 400 grams of a fentanyl-caffeine mix, 300 grams of a fentanyl-heroin mix, 20 grams of cocaine, a shotgun, brass knuckles, a taser and drug trafficking paraphernalia, including three sets of scales, packaging, 13 cell phones and more than 2.5 kilograms of caffeine and mannitol used as cutting agents. The estimated street value of the seized drugs was $80,000.