12 charged over drug lab on Wainwright military base
It's one of the biggest drug scandals ever to hit the Canadian Forces.
Twelve soldiers and ex-soldiers training at CFB Wainwright face 70 narcotics charges, including operating a drug lab in one of the barracks.
Military police laid the charges Tuesday, two months after the arrests were made.
Maj. Dan Dandurand, head of the forces' prairie region National Investigation Section, said while drug crimes are not unheard of in the military, cases this big are extremely rare.
"This is a rare occurrence where we have an investigation of this magnitude, with this result," he said.
Dandurand wouldn't discuss details of the investigation, but said the lab was used to manufacture dimethyltryptamine, an extremely powerful hallucinogen that's sometimes referred to as The Jesus Drug. It's extracted chemically from plants.
It was found in a housing unit for new arrivals to CFB Wainwright, Western Canada's major training ground where all Afghanistan-bound troops prepare for their tours of duty, and soldiers waiting to leave the military.
He wouldn't say if the lab was dangerous — meth labs, for example, produce highly toxic and explosive chemicals — but added that, as a precaution, all personnel were moved out of the building until the lab was dismantled.
Military police also seized cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana and some prescription drugs. Dandurand estimated the total street value at $10,000.
So far, he said, the investigation is confined to military personnel at the base.
All of the suspects were in Wainwright for training and not part of the base staff.
CFB Wainwright's base commander, Lt.-Col. Paul Duff, said while it's "certainly a serious case that doesn't happen often in the Canadian Forces," he doesn't think there will be any changes to how the military monitors for drug abuse.
Presently, there are random drug tests, troops can be tested if there's reasonable grounds to suspect they're abusing drugs, and everyone preparing for combat duty is subject to short-notice testing.
A recent study by the forces shows that there's less drug use in the military than the general population, with only 4.7% smoking pot, compared to 14% of the rest of us.
Rates of alcohol abuse, however, are much higher in the military, with 40% saying the recently went on a binge (five drinks in one sitting).
The Chief of Defence Staff told QMI Agency in Ottawa Wednesday that the charges demonstrate the military's zero-tolerance policy on drug abuse. "We do not accept drugs at all in the Canadian Forces, especially with all our operational missions," said General Walt Natynczyk.
Pvt. Matthew Wright and ex-private David McKinnell are charged with production of a controlled substance, along with several counts of trafficking and possession.
Pvt. Glen Morgan and ex-private Michael Masserey are charged with trafficking and several counts of possession.
The remaining eight are charged with possession and use of controlled substances under the National Defense Act. They are: Cpl. Thomas MacDougall, Pvt. Jeffrey Brennan, Pvt. Benjamin Humphrey, Pvt. Dominique Malette, Pvt. Glen Morgan, Pvt. Michael Polack, Pvt. Claude Roger Rocan, Pvt. Clayton Taylor and ex-Pvt. Melyssa Lake.
All were charged and released with restrictions on their movement. Their files are now in the hands of the Director of Military Prosecutions, who will decide whether to proceed to a court martial.
By ANDREW HANON, Edmonton Sun
June 16, 2010 5:49pm
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12 charged over drug lab on Wainwright military base.