The Vancouver man who opened a store selling heroin, meth, cocaine, and MDMA was arrested less than 24 hours after launching the business.
Jerry Martin opened The Drugs Store, a mobile shop, in the Downtown Eastside Wednesday, a neighbourhood that’s been ravaged by the overdose epidemic. He said he wanted to give people a safe supply of drugs that have been tested to ensure they didn’t contain fentanyl.
Vancouver police said Thursday they arrested a man for drug trafficking “in connection with an illicit drug dispensary that began operating yesterday in the Downtown Eastside.”
Police said they started gathering evidence “after the suspect started selling cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and heroin out of a mobile trailer parked near Main and Cordova streets.”
“We support measures aimed at improving public safety for people who use drugs, including harm reduction services and decriminalization,” Constable Tania Visintin said in a press release. “However, we remain committed in our position that drug trafficking will continue to be the subject of enforcement.”
Police said they seized two vehicles, body armour, and Canadian currency as part of the ongoing investigation. They said Martin is banned from returning to the Downtown Eastside as part of his bail conditions. They did not specify any charges against him.
The store, which was parked next to a police van, had bright yellow sandwich boards featuring a price list for all the drugs, which ranged from $10 for a point (one-tenth of a gram) of meth to $250 for 2.5 grams of crack. Martin, who wore a stab-proof vest as he sold drugs from behind a plexiglas window inside the shop, said he wanted to stay close to street prices.
Martin told VICE News Wednesday that his plan was to get arrested eventually. He said he wants to launch a constitutional challenge arguing that prohibition has created a toxic drug supply that’s killing Canadians.
“He would allege that laws that prevent a safe supply and result in death by poisoning contravene section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and must be struck down,” his lawyer, Paul Lewin, wrote in a letter to Martin’s potential business partners.
Martin already has a cannabis trafficking conviction.
Martin said he was partially inspired to open the store by his stepbrother Gord Rennie, who died of a drug overdose last year. Rennie was interviewed in the VICE News Tonight documentary, Beyond Fentanyl, about his addiction to benzo dope.