Blood Tribe Police downplay ‘Methbridge’ drug war, say they’re ‘on top of’ increase in violence

LETHBRIDGE – Police in a southern Alberta First Nation are defending the safety of their city, saying the local service is “on top of” what it’s calling a moderate increase in drug-related violence.

Blood Tribe Police Chief Lee Boyd said the violence is to be expected with the rise of fentanyl, and suggested gang activity increases when rival groups are battling for the new business.

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    “Although we’ve had a moderate increase in the violence, we are confident that we’re on top of it and that we are able to deal with it in a reasonable fashion,” Boyd said.

    He added that BTPS is working to rid the tribe of gang activity, and that could result in them relocating elsewhere.

    “It’s usual that if you have a strong enforcement presence in one particular area that you might displace the activity to another area,” Boyd said. “I think that’s part of what is contributing to the activity that’s started to be noticed in Lethbridge.

    Boyd spoke out after a Calgary media report suggesting violence on the Blood Tribe is on the rise. A Blood Tribe Police constable is quoted as saying rival gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, are attacking each other over control of the drug trade and the violence could be spreading to Lethbridge.

    The Lethbridge Police Service told Global News that while there has been a slight increase in gang activity, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them, either.

    “What we’ve experienced is not really different from what we’ve seen in the past,” Deputy Chief Colin Catonio said.

    “There’s a current minor spike but I wouldn’t say this is a long-term trend. I think we have got to wait and see how some stuff plays out.”

    The report suggested the term “Methbridge” is being used by local drug dealers, referring to the rise of methamphetamine in Lethbridge. But according to police, while the use of the drug is on the rise, drugs like fentanyl and cocaine remain a bigger problem.

    Both police forces say they will continue working together to combat the issue head on.

    “We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to work even closer over the next year to be able to provide some strategic enforcement actions,” Boyd added.