By Alfa · Jul 5, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    Bedraggled and rail-thin, the Whalley woman's timing could not have
    been any worse yesterday as she stopped in at Kevin's Convenience Store.

    "You want cigarettes?" the nervous store clerk said hopefully in the
    same thick Vietnamese accent she had just used to insist to the Sunday
    Province that there was nothing to police allegations that the store
    in the 10500-block King George Highway was selling crack cocaine and
    heroin to Whalley drug addicts.

    "No smokes," the woman said, shaking her head.

    Instead, she held a pinched thumb and forefinger up to her cracked
    lips and inhaled, her bulging eyes looking at the clerk hopefully.

    Rolling her eyes in disbelief, the clerk screamed: "No!" and shooed
    the woman down a back alley, adding: "Get out!"

    While Kevin's staffers contend the shop located in the black heart of
    Whalley sells only typical convenience store stock, the local RCMP
    tell a different story.

    Acting on a tip from street people, the Mounties mounted an undercover
    operation to probe allegations that the store -- located just blocks
    from the Whalley police headquarters -- was brazenly selling cocaine
    and heroin, said Cpl. Tim Shields.

    "It led finally to the [June 18] arrests of these two women who were
    working behind the counter," Shields said.

    "You could walk in off the street and purchase hard drugs just like
    you would purchase a pack of cigarettes.

    "It was like a crack house inside a store -- a crack store," he alleged.

    A woman who identified herself as a friend of the store owner denied
    the allegations and said the owner is on holiday and unavailable for

    Meantime, local shop owners and residents welcomed news of the

    "The guy next door complained and so did we," said one longtime
    shopkeeper, who requested anonymity and said that he feared
    retribution from the half-dozen druggies who were busy using behind
    his store yesterday.

    "Hopefully, police will continue to clean it up and the customers will
    not be afraid any more."

    Shopper Lorna Fernandez, who moved out of Whalley 14 years ago owing
    to the crime, was shocked to learn of allegations that people were
    buying coke with their Coke.

    "It's not good to be selling that stuff, but this is a very bad area,"
    said the 41-year-old, who works as a caregiver for the elderly.

    "That's why we left, but it's good to see the police making arrests."

    Added retiree Joe Berger, 71: "I'm happy [the RCMP] are cracking down
    on the crime. Who wouldn't be?"

    The two women arrested are each charged with one count of possession
    for the purpose of trafficking and one count of trafficking.

    Police also say they found illegal video lottery terminals on the premises.


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