December 19, 2008
Illicit drug use and the “high probability” that members of the Canadian Forces are involved in the drug trade are among the major concerns of military officials, according to documents obtained using access to information laws.
Those concerns are illustrated in one military briefing note, obtained by CBC News, that focuses on an incident in which military police, acting on a tip and assisted by a drug dog, searched a convoy that had returned from the Kandahar town of Spin Boldak.
The drug dog detected the scent of drugs on two of the vehicles in the convoy, but the search did not result in any seizures, the briefing note says.
“The results of the search do not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate any charges; however, the results are indicative that Canadian personnel may be involved in the use and traffic of illicit substances,” the briefing note says.
“Based on a variety of indicators (pre-deployment urinalysis, easy access to illicit drugs, and investigations of illicit drug use) there is a high probability that some CF personnel will involve themselves in the drug trade,” the note adds.
CBC News also obtained reports from three different criminal intelligence overviews that look into regional crime trends among Canadian military personnel.
The military expresses its concerns about the drug issue in Afghanistan again in the executive summary of a report titled Task Force Afghanistan Criminal Intelligence Overview.
That report, which covers the rotation of Feb. 7 to Aug. 7, 2007, states “one area of concern, which will continue to be a focal point for criminal resources, is the accessibility to illicit drugs.”
Almost 200 investigations in 2006
Of the 20 investigations conducted during that rotation, 13 included importation of heroin and “National Defence Act offences,” although it’s not clear what those offences are.
A National Criminal Intelligence Assessment report, which reviews the activities of Canadian troops at home and abroad, said there were 198 drug offence investigations in 2006 – 28 trafficking and 170 possession investigations.
“Compared to previous years, trafficking offences have seen a steady increase, while possession offences demonstrated a significant spike for 2006,” the review says.
Marijuana is the most common drug used, followed by cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine, according to the review. But it’s methamphetamine, and its rise in use, that most worries officials.
Personnel who become addicted will “pose a significant security and operational threat to the [Canadian Forces]. The threat this highly addictive drug poses to the CF is [assessed] as high,” the report says.
“Illicit drug use and trafficking is present at most, if not all, CF establishments across Canada and abroad. While most CF members involved in illicit drug activity are trafficking drugs to support their habits, there is a small percentage that are associating themselves closer with organized criminal groups involved in the distribution of drugs.”
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