In a noteworthy turn of events, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside-based organization, the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF), was raided by the police after publicly admitting to acquiring hard drugs including cocaine and heroin from the dark web. Following a thorough examination, the club would distribute these drugs to its members in a well-managed operation.
The unexpected intrusion took place on Wednesday, resulting in the arrest of two individuals and seizing of narcotics. The police’s intervention in DULF’s activities touches upon the group’s attempt to mitigate the harm caused by the toxic drug supply, as per the Vancouver Police Department’s Insp. Phil Heard.
Earlier in March 2022, DULF had willingly given CTV News a behind-the-scenes look into their operations. Their transparency about the services they provide to the members has been established for over a year, ensuring they deliver a secure drug supply.
Financial support for DULF arrives from the provincial government, particularly Vancouver Coastal Health, which annually contributes $200,000 for testing purposes. This arrangement recently became a contentious topic in the legislature.
Elenore Sturko, BC United MLA, expressed her scorn for the government’s funding decision. Her resentment stemmed from the belief that the government, in its efforts to save lives, was inadvertently promoting organizations that further criminal activities.
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth firmly defended the government’s position, dismissing the notion that the allocated funds were utilized for purchasing illegal narcotics as profound nonsense.
The provincial government, on October 2, directed Vancouver Coastal Health to terminate its contract with DULF, effective October 31. Premier Eby maintained that despite DULF’s contributions to saving lives, it was integral for the law to be upheld.
The opposition believes government funding for DULF should have ceased much earlier. BC United leader Kevin Falcon questioned how the government was not aware of DULF’s operations until now.
Among those expressing concern over the recent clampdown on DULF’s operations were safe supply advocates, including Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm. Referring to the alarming number of overdose deaths this year, McBain feared that the arrests have left the users even more exposed.
As of Thursday afternoon, the authorities have yet to reveal the identities of the arrested individuals and no charges have been filed. The ongoing developments suggest a larger discourse on drug use and regulation is perhaps required.