Crossing the white lines

2 Dec

Photo by SqueakyMarmot

It’s not hard to find a story about the drug addicts in the Downtown Eastside—during the Olympics especially, all you had to do was throw a rock at a newsstand and you’d find a story about Canada’s “Drug Central”. You won’t find so many stories, however, on how the drug trade actually works, and who exactly are the dealers. You know them when you see them—unlike other residents of the neighbourhood who look world weary, in need of a good meal, a night’s rest, and maybe some new clothes, these men are decked out in expensive hoodies and sneakers, bluetooth phones in their ears, pacing the sidewalks slowly like wild cats. They obviously don’t belong, but who are they and where do they come from?
Many journalists, myself included, are too scared to ask. We know what they’re doing here, but we’d rather not get involved. While this may ensure our safety and continued work in the neighbourhood, however, it leaves a hole in the story—one that Matt Chambers, editor-in-chief of the online magazine The Dependent, has set out to fill. Chambers had the chutzpah, or perhaps lack of sanity, to work his way into the trust of some neighbourhood dealers and turned it into a four-part feature series that attempts to answer who are these people, how does the street-level drug trade work, and why don’t they get caught? The second feature went up today, but it’s important to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).


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