Mayors call for drug crackdown
In wake of slaying, Colwood, Langford leaders are eager to work with police
Two West Shore mayors are calling on police to tackle drug problems in their communities, in the wake of a high-profile killing that has left a Highlands councillor and his two sons charged with murder.
Colwood’s mayor said yesterday he’ll ask police to investigate the local drug scene, and Langford’s mayor will suggest the RCMP form a dedicated West Shore drug squad.
The issue of drug trafficking has been a hot topic in Colwood and Langford since Keith Taylor’s body was dumped outside the West Shore RCMP station the night of May 30.
Taylor, 33, was a career criminal, with a laundry list of drug, assault, theft and weapons convictions. Earlier in the evening, he was at a house on Betula Place, in Colwood, where neighbours say suspicious vehicles made frequent stops but often stayed only a few minutes.
The residence is a crime scene, according to the RCMP. Highlands councillor Ken Brotherston and his sons Kenneth Jr. and Gregory are charged with first-degree murder and unlawful confinement.
“Obviously, what’s happened just recently will prompt me to ask [RCMP] the question: ‘ Do you think we have some [drug] issues out here?’ ” Colwood Mayor Jody Twa said. “I think you’d have to be naive to think there isn’t. I doubt Colwood is exempt from drugs.”
Langford Mayor Stew Young said he does not believe the West Shore’s illegal drug situation is any worse than anywhere else in the capital region. Nonetheless, he pledges to do something about it. He’ll ask the RCMP to set up a West Shore drug squad.
“They should do nothing else but attack the drug situation that’s happening in the West Shore,” Young said.
Young plans to meet with Twa to draft a strategy.
While drug dealing is perhaps most visible in Victoria, distribution often starts in residential communities, said Sgt. Dave Bown, head of the Regional Crime Unit.
“The mid-level drug traffickers and high-level traffickers have to live somewhere and have to store their drugs,” Bown said. “They rent and buy properties outside the downtown core and make deliveries into the core.”
A high-end dealers’ home may show no signs of drug activity, he said, while a lowlevel dealer might sell out of a rented apartment or house.
In one such example, in March, police raided a house in Langford and seized $10,000 worth of stolen property and $50,000 worth of drugs, including crystal meth, cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy pills. Six men were arrested.
Drugs aren’t thriving in big cities alone, said Benedikt Fischer, a University of Victoria drug researcher and criminologist. Drug markets in smaller communities and rural areas don’t typically have the same massive quantities and diversity of drugs as in the big cities. Cocaine, for example, is sometimes a thriving market in affluent suburbs, he said.
“In small communities the markets are just often more incestuous, there’s fewer people, people know each other, and it’s more difficult to get away from bad reputations or bad relationships,” Fischer said.
“Amphetamine and stimulant markets tend to be more volatile and violent than some of the other markets like sedatives and opiate markets,” he said. “Typically drug-related violence is either about turf or debt.”