Drug bust in the University District

Two arrests made after search at Earl and Division Streets

Photo: 

After an undercover police investigation, two current or former Queen’s students have been arrested with charges related to trafficking ecstasy and marijuana in the University District.

At approximately 3:45 p.m. on Nov. 13, Kingston Police (KP) and the Emergency Response Unit executed a search warrant for a small undercover drug operation in the University District. 

The bust, which took place at Earl and Division Streets, resulted in the seizure of MDMA/ecstasy and marijuana, as well as $1,715 in Canadian currency and other illicit drugs. 

Two individuals, Paul Barry and Justin Cha, were arrested in connection to the operation. Both Barry and Cha’s Facebook profiles indicate they study at Queen’s, although The Journal could not confirm whether they still attend the university.

Barry faces five counts of Trafficking in Controlled Substances, two counts of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking in Controlled Substances and one count of Possession of Proceeds of Crime. 

Cha faces slightly lesser charges, with two counts of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking in Controlled Substances and one count of Possession of Proceeds of Crime.

According to Steve Koopman, Media Relations Officer for KP, the investigation began after a community complaint was lodged to the police. Following the complaint, an officer from the street crimes unit began an undercover investigation. 

“The officer then approached and spoke to the individual or individuals and made multiple buys over different days, both in terms of what drugs were being offered and quantities,” he said. 

The officer in question purchased $1,500 worth of drugs over several meetings with the individuals. 

“The reason we do that, quite often, is to assist in proving the facts, if it’s an issue of trafficking actually occurring. It’s not like ‘oh, I happen to have a little bit of spare marijuana on me, I’ll sell it to you just this one time,’” Koopman said.

“It helps prove the fact that this individual is more than willing to sell illicit drugs on multiple occasions and on multiple dates.” 

Once the officer had gathered enough information, they filed an Information to Obtain a Search Warrant under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. 

According to Koopman, the police involved the emergency response unit — KP’s tactical team — in the case due to the potential for danger to the community. 

Koopman added that because ecstasy was involved — rather than solely marijuana — this raised the severity of the situation. 

 “Marijuana is considered by some to be a bit of a soft drug. Ecstasy obviously amps things up a bit. We’re not dealing with crystal methamphetamine, cocaine or heroine, but at the same time, people have obviously died from molly or MDMA,” Koopman said. 

“We want to send the message that we will take these individual community complaints, we will investigate, and people who are selling drugs illicitly can expect that undercover officers can start in contact with you.”

Barry and Cha have since attended a bail hearing. Koopman said he’s unsure what the result of the hearing was, but noted that 2012’s Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, ensures a mandatory 2-year jail sentence for the trafficking of MDMA in the proximity of a school. 

It will be up to the judge to determine whether the Earl and Division area qualifies. Alan Harrison, provost and vice-principal (academic), said it would be “inappropriate to comment” on the arrests, as the matter is before the courts.

However, he noted that under the Queen’s interim protocol for non-academic discipline, the University will normally defer any disciplinary procedures until criminal or civil proceedings have concluded. 

“In the interim, the University may impose terms and conditions that are appropriate in the circumstances to ensure the safety of the campus community,” he said in an email to The Journal.

In October 2005, a similar search conducted in a residence in the University District resulted in the trial of a student for drug trafficking. 

That incident didn’t involve MDMA, but police found a quarter pound of marijuana packaged in various weights as well as $3,000 in currency, according to Constable Craig Sharpe of the KP Intelligence Unit.

In May 2006, another residence raid on Albert St. resulted in the seizure of 1,847.6 grams of marijuana, 87 grams of magic mushrooms, morphine pills, digital scales and a marijuana grinder, along with $925 in cash.

According to 2015 data from the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, youth between 15 and 24 years of age are the most frequent users of MDMA, with 1.4 per cent of the population having used the drug.

 

—  With files from Jacob Rosen

 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.