Latest Videos from CTV Saskatoon
Murder, manslaughter charges a possibility after overdose deaths
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 3:19PM CST
Last Updated Monday, March 12, 2018 7:05PM CST
Saskatoon police are not ruling out manslaughter or murder charges in connection with two overdose deaths investigators believe are linked to cocaine possibly laced with fentanyl.
“The investigation into the deaths is ongoing, and once the major crime unit has completed that investigation, they’ll share their findings with the provincial Crown and the federal Crown,” Supt. Dave Haye told media Monday morning. “If it’s recommended by them to proceed with the charges in relation to the death, we’ll certainly follow through with that.”
Three men are so far facing drug and weapons charges in the case. The trio, who all appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Monday morning, were arrested over a several-hour span Saturday night and early Sunday morning, following three emergency calls tied to six suspected overdoses.
Two people died as a result of the overdoses and four were taken to hospital, prompting the Saskatoon Police Service to issue a warning to the public. Police advised that cocaine purchased from a dealer who goes by the name "Lil Joe" or "Joe Bro," or from someone with the number 306-881-7300, may be laced with fentanyl — and, potentially, a fatal dose of fentanyl.
“If you have purchased cocaine from the person with the above cellular number we are urging you to turn it into the SPS front desk so we can properly dispose of it,” a news release, sent Sunday evening, read.
"SPS is not searching to pursue charges for being in possession of this cocaine, we are interested in the health and safety of the public."
Haye told media he was not aware of Saskatoon police ever previously asking members of the public to turn in drugs without risk of punishment.
“This is brand new to us,” he said. “We believe we’re following the spirit of the federal Good Samaritan (Drug Overdose) Act, where the act itself provides some safety from charging for people who report an overdose — so this follows the spirit of that.”
Releasing the nickname of an alleged dealer, as well as a phone number, is also unprecedented for the Saskatoon police, as far as he knows, Haye said. The move was done in consultation with provincial and federal Crown prosecutors.
“They were aware we were going to do it. We believe that the public safety interests are of the greater need here,” he told media.
He said police received no more overdose calls following the arrests of the three men, but he didn’t say if one of the men was the “Lil Joe” or “Joe Bro” dealer.
“We believe we have the right people in custody. Whether one of them is using that name or not, I’m not sure right now,” he said.
Two of the men were arrested while driving in the city, and the third was taken into custody after police and the tactical support unit executed a search warrant at an address on the 100 block of Pawlychenko Lane.
More than $14,200 in cash, 11.16 grams of cocaine with fentanyl, 149 grams of cocaine, 31 grams of heroin, 34 grams of marijuana and a gun with ammunition were seized during the arrests, police said in a news release.
The trio charged range in age between 19 and 21 years old, court documents show. Two are from Calgary and one lives in Saskatoon.