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rcmp bust of long suspected drug house long time coming resident says
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RCMP bust of long-suspected drug house ‘long time coming,’ resident says

The RCMP has laid a number of charges after a drug bust in North West River over the weekend, but an advocate in the community is pointing to a lack of enforcement and the need for social programming. In a news release, the RCMP said they arrested a 30-year-old man on Thursday, after a drug bust on Sunday Hill Road in North West River, 38 kilometres north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Officers laid eleven charges after seizing cocaine, about $11,500 in cash, firearms and other drug use items. The RCMP said officers returned to the home three days after the arrest and recovered stolen property. But the drug bust wasn’t a surprise to Sheila Cooper. The North West River woman lost her son, Jon, to an overdose. She said the home that was raided is well known in the community of about 500 people. She went to the scene to watch the bust as it happened. “There’s a lot of traffic to that house, so everybody in town knows what’s going on,” Cooper said. “It was a long time coming.” Cooper said she believes the bust happened after former Conservative MP Peter Penashue took matters into his own in Sheshatshiu last week by smashing the windows out of a vehicle parked outside of a home. Penashue was arrested on March 23 after a long-simmering dispute he claims is fuelled by illicit drug dealing and police inaction in the community. Penashue told CBC News at the time that he smashed the windows out of the parked vehicle outside of a house he bought for his son. Penashue said his son transferred ownership of the house in exchange for $12,000 in cash and $2,500 in cocaine. He said the RCMP refused to respond to his concerns. The current occupant denies Penashue’s claims. “That could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and maybe now something will change thanks to the man that broke those windows,” Cooper said. She said there has been a lack of enforcement on drug dealers in the community for years. Cooper said Penashue was a hero and wished she was with him when he was arrested. “The whole community feels like something needs to change and not just our community, but all the communities here. Goose Bay, Sheshatshiu, like all over, something needs to change,” she said. Further programming, more enforcement needed: Cooper Cooper hopes this is just the start and the other well-known homes that drug dealers operate out of will be busted next. “There’s still a long way to go, and you can’t go anywhere as long as these dealers are still hanging out in town,” she said. Cooper hopes to see an increase in social programming for people who are using drugs to help with addictions until they’re ready to become clean. “There’s not enough help,” she said. “To see the users and their faces and that, it really hurts and breaks my heart, especially after my own son dying.” Sheshatshiu has a number of programs but more is needed in North West River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Cooper said. Cooper said she dreams of North West River being a safer community in the future and is working to do what she can by starting an organization she’s calling Jon’s Afterlife with the aim to give out safe supply kits for a variety of drugs to help keep people alive. Cooper hopes to expand the organization to include youth programming to help kids in the town stay off of drugs by having other outlets in their lives. “Without any dreams or things like that and with a lot of parents on drugs, how can you expect them to understand that they can become something?” Cooper said. “My goal would be to help them see it.” free CBC News appClick here to visit our landing page

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