CLERK DENIES SHOP IS SELLING COCAINE
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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