Weston pharmacist gets 13 years in jail

A pharmacist at Weston PharmaChoice on Lawrence has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for dealing fentanyl. A Weston-area doctor was a co-conspirator. He will be sentenced next month.

Shereen El-Azrak was convicted of selling 2,780 fentanyl patches fraudulently prescribed by Dr George Otto, who worked at a walk-in clinic near Jane and Wilson.

The court estimates that she distributed up to 6,400 patches, worth more than a million dollars on the street.

For each ‘patient’ (each of whom received many patches) Otto received a kickback of $1500, and El-Azrak got $500, according to Global News. The fentanyl packages were sold to two middlemen, who distributed them across the province, as far away as Sudbury.

 

El-Azrak also worked as a pharmacist at the Humber River Regional Hospital, according to The Globe and Mail.

Shooting at Weston and King

The police are investigating a shooting that took place at Weston and King around 5:30 this afternoon. They say that five males in a silver four-door car shot at another vehicle. No victims were located at the time, though 680 reports that a man checked himself into hospital a short time later.

Wanted man: Mohsin Yusuf

The Toronto Police Service are looking for a man alleged to have stabbed another man at King and Weston Road. The police are looking for Mohsin Yusuf, 41, of Toronto. He is 5’10” and 165 lbs, “with short black hair, balding on top.”

Some thoughts on guns and gangs.

About 75% of shootings in Toronto are gang related. For most Weston Web readers that means little – we’re ok because we most of us don’t live in a gang neighbourhood. For those living in public housing, the fear is real. Many (especially black and male) young people are unable to travel to other neighbourhoods for fear of the consequences of straying into gang territory.

The Mayor and Police Chief can often be found behind a podium expressing dismay at a shooting event and lamenting that while everything is being done, there are no easy answers. At the same time, the head of the police union tells the public that there is an easy answer: more cops; while others want a return to provincially funded programs such as TAVIS.

From the Toronto Star.

This might be wrong on all counts except for the number of cops.  Manchester in the U.K has a similar population to ours and has over a thousand more officers and hundreds more support staff. Manchester’s murder rate (a reliable crime indicator) is 2.44 per 100,000 people compared to 3.11 in Toronto. Incidentally, Chicago – a similar sized city to Toronto and Manchester had a murder rate of 23.8 in 2018.

We’ve known for a while what needs to be done but it’s not easy. Solving this multi-faceted  problem is hard, requires brave and intelligent public officials, doesn’t work overnight and it’s expensive in the short term.

Here’s what we know about gangs.

A gang can provide:

  • a surrogate family.
  • perceived safety and protection.
  • a path to money, success and respect.
  • an outlet for frustration and anger.
  • membership in a community.

Successfully combatting the lure of a gang requires more attractive alternatives and young people need to acquire the education and skills that will allow them to choose a more mainstream lifestyle.

More traditional policing is not the only answer. It’s the difference between treating the symptoms of an illness or actually getting at the cause.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders recently announced a $4.5 million, 11-week program aimed at reducing gun violence. Presumably after 11 weeks, the matter will be taken care of and we can all go back to sleep. In fairness, Chief Saunders is in a tough spot. Every politician is expecting him to do something but without permanent funding, he’s stuck with applying band-aids for short periods of time. As an aside; anyone who can come in to work during home dialysis and after a kidney transplant has my respect.

Clearly we’re at another crisis point and not enough is being done. The Ford government is well on its way to guaranteeing that gang violence will continue. Cuts to the minimum wage and vital services like education, health, housing and school repairs will cause the most damage in poorer neighbourhoods which is where gangs thrive.

From The Hamilton Spectator.

Yes, the Ford government truly knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Here’s an example – instead of allowing the minimum wage to rise from $14 to $15, Ford froze the wage at $14 and promised that minimum wage earners would get a (pitiful) tax break. In effect, the Ford government now subsidizes companies who pay low wages (thus increasing the deficit) yet complains that the government spends too much. Deep thinkers at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce predicted that a minimum wage rise from $11.60 to $14 would ramp up unemployment, the cost of living and would lower profits. In fact inflation didn’t budge, unemployment went down while tax revenues and profits were up. It’s counter intuitive but ‘evidence’ apparently doesn’t fit the C of C / Tory dogma. And in the meantime, a living wage is further out of reach, putting more people at risk of choosing a life of crime.

Is the solution to crime putting more people in jail? Yes for violent criminals as their incarceration protects society. Putting people in jail is expensive and surprisingly it does little to discourage crime. For example, the U.S. locks up more of its population than anywhere else on earth yet the murder rate is 5.3 per 100,000 compared to Canada’s 1.8 (2017 figures).  By all means put hardened criminals in jail and reject bail for those accused of a violent crime; however, in the long run, diverting people into better lifestyles benefits society as a whole – and it’s a lot cheaper than jail.

Yes; answers to gang violence take intelligence, political courage and money. These commodities are sadly lacking when it comes to tackling the problem. The public also needs to support the police; get involved and stop protecting criminals.

From The Denver Post.
What the research says we need to do:
  1. Educate parents on the signs of children’s gang involvement.
  2. Disempower gangs through infiltration, police presence and education to make membership in a gang less appealing.
  3. Increase penalties for smuggling and possession of unlicensed / unregistered guns.
  4. Provide more community facilities so that young people can gather safely.
  5. Publicize the 222 TIPS and rewards program.
  6. Increase the minimum wage to liveable levels and keep it tied to inflation.
  7. Provide incentives for top teachers and administrators to work in challenging schools.
  8. Deny public housing / housing subsidies to known gang members. Evict tenants who accommodate known gang members.
  9. Similar ideas from Mark Towhey here.
Guns.

Somehow, the great thinkers south of the border have convinced themselves (and gullible others) that the answer to gun crime is more guns. Thanks to a bizarre misinterpretation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. constitution, the right to bear arms is enshrined. Naturally, when our neighbour is overflowing with firearms, many make their way here. Handguns being relatively easy to hide are smuggled most often. We also have legitimate collectors and target shooters whose collections are burgled adding to our gun problem.

There has been much talk of a handgun ban in Toronto. Without border guards at the entrances to the city, this is a non-starter. The federal government needs to have the courage to do this nation-wide. There are few compelling reasons for private citizens to own a gun. In the U.S. the most likely victim of a gun in a house is the owner or a family member. There’s no reason to believe that Canada is any different.

Pro Tip: if you know someone with a gun, you can call 222 TIPS and get rewarded if your tip results in a gun being confiscated ($500) or a crime being solved ($50 – $2000). There is absolute confidentiality – even to the point of the (cash) payment.

Man stabbed

A man was beaten and stabbed early Saturday morning near Weston and Lawrence.

This is the third very violent incident this week. On the 21st, Minh Le, 61, was shot and killed near McDonald’s. On the 22nd, Abdikani Ismail, 31, was shot and killed while driving. The police said that both incidents were targeted shootings, but they have not said that they are related.

The police are looking for two men, one of whom is known to them.


 

Murder in Mount Dennis

A man has been shot and killed while driving on Weston Road.

According to CTV, another vehicle pulled up beside a white SUV around 9 pm on Weston Road near Sidney Belsey Crescent, and the occupant or occupants opened fire with several shots. The driver of the SUV drove some distance and crashed. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

This is the second murder within a week in the Weston area. Minh Le, 61, was shot and killed near the McDonald’s at the 401.

Man shot near McDonald’s dies

The man shot earlier this week near McDonald’s has died of his injuries. The police have identified him as Minh Le, 61, of Toronto.

According to The Star, Le was killed in a targeted shooting. The police are looking for a man “wearing black prescription glasses, black clothing and shirt that says ‘Versace'”.