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Chief of UCCM Anishnaabe Police has high hopes for new drug unit

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The chief of the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishnaabe Police has high hopes that a new drug enforcement unit will not only reduce drug incidents on Manitoulin Island, but will also take down the people trafficking the drugs.

One Monday, the UCCM Anishnaabe Police announced it was setting up its first full-time drug enforcement unit “to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking and organized crime, and make all communities on Manitoulin Island safe,” a news release said.

“Everyone’s seen the change -- the unfortunate change -- that’s happened on Manitoulin, not just in our communities but across the entire island, and they know that this is needed,” police chief James Killeen told CTV News in a Zoom interview.

Killeen said residents in the six First Nation communities the police force covers have been asking for solutions to the growing drug problem.

The new drug unit will put a major focus on mid- to upper-level drug traffickers.

“They know that they can come up here and there’s a large amount of profitability for their illicit drug trade,” Killeen said.

“They’re selling drugs here for three and four times the amount that they are in southern Ontario ... They have less concentrated effort on them and they can easily intimidate people here.”

The chief of the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishnaabe Police has high hopes that a new drug enforcement unit will not only reduce drug incidents on Manitoulin Island, but will also take down the people trafficking the drugs.

Statistics from the past three years show UCCM police made 85 arrests for criminal and drug-related charges. Of those, 22 were from southern Ontario.

Along with taking down traffickers, Killeen said the new drug unit will collect intelligence to share with other police services, including the OPP.

“I want to be able to show the connection between major criminal organizations that are coming to our island. We’re going to do that by working in partnership,” he said.

“We are aware that the more information that we’re going to gather, the more connections we’re going to be able to make and we’re going to be able to show people that Manitoulin Island is a hub for criminal activity that needs to be concentrated on.”

The five full-time positions come with a number of incentives, including experience pay, increased benefits and available housing.

The jobs will be posted for the next month or until the police service funds the right candidates. 

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