SASKATOON – The father of Kelly Best is thankful but wishes last week’s massive drug bust in Saskatchewan happened a little sooner. Best died a few weeks ago in Saskatoon after taking fake oxycontin.
“He was a very well-liked young man and I’m just happy that he was my son, I just wish he was physically still here, we’re broken without him,” said Don Best, calling from Prince Albert, Sask. on Jan. 16.
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Toxicology reports point to fentanyl being in Kelly’s system. This is the same drug composition as the counterfeit oxycontin officers seized during Wednesday’s drug bust.
“Project Forseti” is a significant investigation into organized crime conducted by the Integrated Organized Crime Unit – North, which includes RCMP and Saskatoon police officers.
On Jan. 14, 19 search warrants were executed on properties and a vehicle in Saskatoon and other communities in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Fourteen people, either members of or affiliated to two outlaw motorcycle gangs – the Hells Angels and Fallen Saints – were arrested and charged.
READ MORE: Fake oxycontin seized in Saskatchewan, Alberta police raids
“This investigation clearly demonstrates there are individuals who are determined to bring harm into our communities,” said Det. Insp. Jerome Engele, with the Saskatoon police’s investigative support section.
Don is thankful for the recent arrests but says if one tree falls in the forest another grows right in its place.
“I think it sends a good message for kids to wake up, the dealers are the bad guys, the kids are the good guys but the good guys got to get their head out of the sand and wake up,” said Don.
“Without the kids and the people in consumption, if that was gone there’d be no need for the other guys, we wouldn’t even have to address this problem.”
Nearly 3,360 fentanyl pills (seen below), firearms and other drugs were seized during the operation. The drugs have an estimated value of $8 million.
“I’m very happy about the goings on of last [week], if it takes some of that off the street that’s killed my son, I’m very happy yes,” said Don.
“I wish it would have happened a couple of weeks earlier, perhaps my son would be alive, perhaps it might have shaken him up enough that he would have confided in us rather than doing what he did.”
On Jan. 6, investigators seized two pill presses commonly associated with production of fentanyl pills in Burnaby B.C. after deaths relating to counterfeit oxycontin in western Canada. Three people have died taking fake oxycontin in Saskatoon.
In September 2014, Logan Jamieson, 20, and Spencer Smith, 25, both died from counterfeit oxycontin pills and Saskatoon police warned the public.
Don says Kelly knew the victims.
“He knew the kids that had died, two of his friends he had told me had died and he was very shaken up about it,” said Don.
READ MORE: Alarm sounded after 2 Saskatoon deaths linked to fake Oxycontin
Police hope to pursue charges related to Best’s death but admit it would be difficult to prove.
Don applauds police departments for last week’s results; he knows it took a lot of manpower to achieve what the operation did for youth in western Canada.
“I know it’s hours and hours and hours of work and I’m just glad but I wish it would have happened a little bit earlier. Things may have changed for our family,” said Don.
“Kelly can never come back but I sure hope his death is not in vain, perhaps some other kids can be saved and it’s a good start having all of that chemical off of the street.”
Don is now putting his energy into saving other kids from drugs and addiction.
“Kids say to me now afterwards, that from Grades 9 to Grades 12, if there were 10 kids in a classroom eight of them are trying this, so stop being naive, it’s not an ugly thing and it’s becoming an epidemic, it’s killing our young kids, so I just want you to be aware and not in my shoes,” said Don.
“Kids within a house they’re lying to us and a good example is my son, he was a great, lovely boy but he got caught up in it and it took his life, he wasn’t caught up in it that he was addicted to it, he got caught up in it where he had tried it.”
RCMP say the only safe medications to take are those prescribed by doctors and there is also no way to guarantee the safety of drugs that are purchased on the street.
Meanwhile, Don questions whether or not speaking to kids is enough.
“I’ve had the conversation with my son many times, he’s just not confided in me, he lied to me, to have a drug test on a young kid is almost too late by the time you take him in, get the results; him being 19 would be up to him if he wanted to share with me even,” said Don.
“From what his friends tell me, Kelly was struggling a bit for the last two months.”
At that point it was too late for his son but Don added that friends, in general, should speak up because addicts won’t.
For more information on alcohol and drug services in the province, people can visit the ministry of health or the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute.
With files from Wendy Winiewski and David Giles