Drug user advocates charged with trafficking: Vancouver police

Vancouver police officers raided the offices of the Drug User Liberation Front on Wednesday. Two people have been arrested, and now, the group’s supporters in the Downtown Eastside say this will hurt the people it served. Kier Junos has the story.

The founding members of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) have been charged with drug trafficking, after an investigation into the organization last year.

Vancouver police say they started looking into DULF, a community-based advocacy group, after members of the group “spoke publicly about trafficking heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines from a storefront in the Downtown Eastside.”

Raids at DULF’s headquarters and two associated homes took place in October, with the group’s two founders arrested.

Prior to the raids, DULF had been facing questions about how it had been paying to buy and test drugs for its members as part of its “compassion club program.”

The VPD says 28-year-old Jeremy Kalicum and 33-year-old Eris Nyx are each facing three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking. The charges were approved by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada on May 31.

The pair is expected back in court on July 2.

The raids and arrests prompted outcry from drug user advocates. A rally was held in November 2023, with speakers saying “the drug war has got to end.”

Some health-care professionals have shown their support for DULF in the wake of the arrests.

The toxic drug crisis continues to claim lives in B.C., with the coroner saying on June 6, 2024, that more than 14,500 have been killed by these illicit substances since the public health emergency was declared in 2016.

In a statement, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth tells CityNews, “Everyone in B.C. wants to fight the toxic drug crisis. But drug trafficking is illegal, and anyone dealing drugs risks being charged. I want to thank the Vancouver Police Department for their continued efforts to combat drug trafficking and keeping people safe.”

With files from Emma Crawford.

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