Calgary — From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010 6:31PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010 9:21PM EDT
The street value was only about $10,000, but the Canadian Forces says a drug-trafficking ring at an Alberta military base is among the largest it has uncovered in recent years.
A dozen current and former soldiers at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright are facing 70 drug-related charges, the most serious of which involve the alleged on-base manufacture and sale of dimethyltryptamine, a hallucinogenic drug known as DMT.
Senior officers wouldn’t say what triggered the probe or how long it has been under way as they announced the charges at a news conference Wednesday at the base, about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton. They said cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana and prescription drugs were also involved in the scheme, but that it didn’t extend beyond the base.
“The specific details of the investigation form part of the evidence that may be heard in front of the court and, therefore, will not be released, so as not to compromise the judicial process,” said Captain Sandra Bourne.
Even so, it is clear that the case is a significant one when compared with previous drug incidents in the military. The annual report of the Judge Advocate General, which reports to Parliament on military justice, lists a total of 21 drug charges under the National Defence Act in 2008-09; 23 in 2007-08; 16 in 2006-07, and 14 in 2005-06.
The charges give another black eye to the Canadian military, which has been rocked by murder charges against the former commander of CFB Trenton in Ontario in the slayings of two women and the removal of Canada’s senior soldier in Afghanistan amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
In the Wainwright case, the Canadian Forces announced in April that it had arrested four enlisted men for drug trafficking. It was suggested more arrests could come.
Now officials say those charged include nine current and three former soldiers.
With the exception of one corporal, all of those charged are privates. Although CFB Wainwright is a key combat training ground, particularly for soldiers preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, none of those charged has served in a combat zone and they weren’t preparing to go overseas.
“These soldiers – and ex-soldiers – were awaiting training or release from the CF after not completing their training,” Capt. Bourne said.
Former private David McKinnell and Private Matthew Wright are each charged with production of DMT, as well as multiple counts of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance.
DMT, which is found in many plants but also occurs naturally in the body, can be smoked for a brief state of intoxication, or consumed orally for a high that lasts several hours.
An alleged drug lab housed in military barracks posed a risk to other soldiers, officials said, and “measures were taken immediately to move them to an alternate location.”
The other serious allegations involve former private Michael Masserey and Private Glen Morgan, who are charged with trafficking as well as possession of a controlled substance.
The head of military prosecutions will decide whether to proceed by court martial.
In the meantime, a drug hotline has been set up in Western Canada and the North to report Canadian Forces members involved with illegal drugs.
“I want to reiterate that the Canadian Forces does not tolerate illegal drug use by Canadian Forces members,” said Major Daniel Dandurand, who leads the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service’s Western Region Detachment.