Saskatoon police urge public to turn in cocaine after fentanyl deaths
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 8:45AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 12, 2018 2:12PM EDT
Police in Saskatoon have issued a public safety warning to potential customers of an accused drug dealer, urging them to turn in their cocaine with no questions asked after several fentanyl overdoses and two deaths over the weekend.
The overdoses have been linked to fentanyl-laced cocaine allegedly sold by a dealer known as “Lil Joe” or “Joe Bro,” police say. The cocaine is thought to contain a potentially lethal dose of the opioid.
The Saskatoon Police Service is urging anyone who has purchased cocaine from a dealer with the phone number 306-881-7300 to turn in their drugs at the front desk of the police station. “SPS is not searching to pursue charges for being in possession of this cocaine,” the police service said in a news release Sunday. “We are interested in the health and safety of the public.”
The Saskatoon Police Service responded to three calls Friday morning involving a total of six overdoses. A 48-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene in one case, while a 31-year-old man found at another address ultimately died in hospital. Four other individuals were also taken to hospital. Three of them are recovering, but a 25-year-old woman remains unresponsive, police said in a news release. The calls came in at approximately 7:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Supt. Dave Haye said this is the first time during his tenure that Saskatoon police have released a suspected dealer’s cell phone number.
“We believe that the public safety interests are of the greater need here,” he said at a news conference Monday, adding that the phone itself is currently in the hands of police.
“It’s unprecedented,” he said.
Police have arrested three men in connection with the case. One of the men, a 29-year-old, was arrested early Saturday in a raid involving members of the police department’s Tactical Support Unit.
Investigators recovered $14,210 in cash, 11.16 grams of fentanyl-laced cocaine, 149.88 grams of cocaine, 31.13 grams of heroin and 34.44 grams of marijuana in the raid, they said. A .45-calibre pistol and ammunition was also recovered.
The three men appeared in court Monday morning to face drug and weapon charges.
Haye said all three suspects are from outside the province, and are suspected of sharing the same “street names” and “deal phone.”
“We believe we have the right people in custody,” he said.
No one had come forward to turn in any cocaine by Monday afternoon, Haye said.