At least 30 drug cases in Ontario are expected to be dropped after authorities charged a top Halton Police officer in connection with prescription opioids stolen from a police evidence locker.
Staff Sgt. Brad Murray, who spent 16 years with the Halton Regional Police and served as head of the force’s drug squad, was charged on Sunday with theft, obstructing justice, and breach of trust. He’s been suspended with pay and will face disciplinary procedures, which could result in his dismissal.
Murray’s charges come as communities across the country grapple with an opioid overdose crisis that’s resulted in thousands of deaths, and has prompted police forces to undertake unprecedented measures to deal with the problem such as carrying naloxone kits. Provincial health ministries have also imposed new opioid prescription guidelines and policies to prevent diversion to the streets.
An internal audit carried out last fall of all seized drug exhibits by the Halton police force revealed that 30 exhibits had been tampered with, all of which involved prescription or illicit opioids, the most common of which was OxyContin, according to a Halton Police press release.
“As a result of the investigation, and confirmation that exhibits had been tampered with, a number of drug related trials have been stayed by the Prosecution,” the news release stated. “The full ramifications of this situation as it relates to court prosecutions and potential withdrawal of charges will not be known for some time.”
It’s unclear where the missing opioids have ended up, but the Halton police chief told the Hamilton Spectator there is no evidence to suggest the drugs have been sold on the street.
Last March, Murray told the newspaper about the impact of prescription drug addiction on the community.
His first court appearance is scheduled for June 27th in Milton.