Thunder Bay police are seeking help from the province to try and slow the drug trafficking and gang violence in the city which includes a homicide last week.
It was the city’s third homicide in two weeks and seventh this year.
The latest was Geoffrey Corbeil, 35, who was originally from Lac Des Milles Lac First Nation northwest of Thunder Bay but has been in Thunder Bay for some time.
Corbeil was known to police as a former Native Syndicate gang member and investigators say the killing was likely drug-related.
In the last three weeks, police have made 22 drug arrests.
“Now we’re seeing so much Fentanyl and as we all know very addictive, very dangerous and it’s just becoming more and more prevalent,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Harrison.
Earlier this week, police seized Fentanyl from two residences with an estimated street value of approximately $85,000.
Many of the arrests involve people from southern Ontario and are known gang members.
“They’re males and they’re usually in their early 20’s to mid 20’s,” said Harrison.
Harrison said Thunder Bay and the surrounding area is a lucrative market for drug traffickers.
He said the city has a lot of people with substance abuse issues – and that is what is attracting the gangs.
“What these guys will do is sell or not sell them, provide them some drugs and at that point there’s an owe that’s required, right,” he said.
“So to pay off your debt I’ll have to come in your house and almost essentially force their way into it and they’ll sell out of their residence.”
Harrison said with gangs comes the violence that is associated with them.
And the problem there he said, is that the violence is so bad that it is silencing victims.
“They have a tendency to use violence. There’s also an intimidation factor they wield to keep people in line. We do find we do encounter large amounts of fear by people and thus having a hard time getting statements, witness statements, victim statements for that matter.”
Harrison said they’ve been able to execute several search warrants in local city residences with the help of other police services in the region who are seeing the same problem.
“They can charge more up in Thunder Bay for drugs than they can for in southern Ontario and even more so up in the northern communities. So we see that are they are moving out of the Thunder Bay area and thus the partnerships we made.”
The Thunder Bay police requested assistance from the province in September.
In a statement to APTN, the police chief said she recently sent a second letter to the province and so far no commitments have been made.
A ministry spokesperson said they’ve received one letter but not a second.