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Canada is also seeing new types of opiates for the first time. Like doda.
Vicky Dhillon is a limo driver-turned-city councillor in the Toronto suburb of Brampton. He first heard about the doda coming to Canada when his teenage son told him kids were using it in his high school and buying it openly.
The highly addictive brownish powder, made by grinding the seed pods of opium poppies, is mixed with tea or hot water and is known as “poor man’s heroin” because it’s so cheap. Last year, police arrested 22 Toronto-area doda dealers and seized 432 kilograms of suspected doda – enough to get 432,000 people high.
Doda has now spread across Canada and is available in Montreal, Quebec City, Edmonton and Vancouver, Dhillon said.
Addiction workers in Vancouver said in a CBC report this year that doda is as common today as marijuana in some city neighbourhoods and that doda abuse has become a “big problem” in the city’s South Asian community.
The face of heroin traffickers is also changing. In Montreal and elsewhere, new Southwest Asian-linked crime groups now dominate heroin and opium smuggling and have elbowed out Italian and East Asian organized crime that used to dominate the heroin market, according to former users and RCMP drug situation reports.
Their methods are innovative. Canadian police have found heroin and opium hidden inside cricket bats, the inner lining of briefcases, hollowed-out women’s shoe soles, chocolates and a tombstone.
In Vancouver, Indo-Canadian crime gangs that sell Afghan heroin are fighting a violent war over drug turf that has seen 100 shootings.
Indo-Canadian gangs have also branched out to become involved in smuggling prescription opiates into Canada, like oxycodone and codeine, RCMP drug situation reports say. That has helped feed an explosion in prescription opiate abuse among Canadians.