Saskatoon police believe the arrests of three men Sunday have put a tainted drug scare to rest for the time being.
Superintendent David Haye spoke to reporters at police headquarters Monday morning, shortly after the trio made their first appearances in Saskatoon Provincial Court.
“What I can tell you is, since the arrests, we’ve had no more calls of fentanyl overdoses,” Haye said. “We believe we have the right people in custody.”
Over the weekend, police put out a warning about fentanyl-laced cocaine, saying a dealer going by the street name Joe Bro or Lil’ Joe was linked to the tainted drugs.
The warning came after six people overdosed over a three-hour span Saturday morning. Two of those people died, one person was left in a coma and the other three people were reportedly recovering after being rushed to hospital.
Haye said he couldn’t confirm if any one of the three men arrested Sunday was the alleged dealer named in the warning.
“Based on my experience, drug traffickers often will share street names as well as deal phones. So, we believe we have the right people in custody. Whether one of them is using that name or not, I’m not sure right now.”
The three men arrested currently face drug trafficking and weapons charges. Haye said Crown prosecutors could still decide to add charges relating to the deaths, such as manslaughter or murder.
“When the major crime unit has completed (their) investigation, they’ll share their findings with the provincial Crown and the federal Crown. If it’s recommended by them to proceed with charges in relation to the deaths — we’ll certainly follow through with that.”
Haye said the decision to release an alleged drug dealer’s street name and phone number before charges were laid was unprecedented for the Saskatoon Police Service. However, he said the move came after consulting with prosecutors.
“We believe that the public safety interests are of the greater need here and that’s why we released that information.”
Haye urged people not to use street drugs, but acknowledged not everyone would follow that advice.
He said anyone who believes they bought laced cocaine could turn the drugs in at the police station without fear of being charged.
Haye stressed anyone who believes they or someone they are with is experiencing an overdose should call 9-1-1. He noted Saskatoon police are subject to the federal Good Samaritan law, which protects people who report an overdose from being charged with possession, or being charged with breaching conditions of a court order forbidding them to possess drugs.
“The Saskatoon Police Service is not searching to pursue any charges for being in possession of the substance. We’re only interested in the health and safety of the public,” he said.