Meth in Moose Jaw: The Four-Five & The Rise of Meth
Moose Jaw’s dirty little secret is the rising use of Crystal Methamphetamine, a literal river of industry whose murkiest waters are those of its distribution arm. Is it organized? Could it be gangs? Or is it just random people making a bit of cash selling it on the side?
Believe it or not, gangs are active, to some extent, in the Friendly City. Just how far the gang life has progressed in Moose Jaw, though, is up for debate. Moose Jaw Police Services (MJPS) has stated to the media that gangs don't control narcotics in the city. They claim gangs aren't here. Well, others in the drug scene tell me they’ve been here for awhile now, at least in some small way. It's a tale of competing narratives.
One interesting fact though, is that the MJPS, in it's 2018 operating budget report, mentions that they do, in fact, employ an officer dedicated, primarily, to organized crime and gang activity. That officer’s salary was paid for by the provincial government.
If there is gang activity here, it is certainly not as prevalent as it is in certain areas of Regina, Saskatoon, North Battleford and Prince Albert, but reliable sources tell me the potential for escalation is there. You only have to look at the media reports over the years of MJPS warning of and/or pointing out gang activity. Years ago, they warned of aboriginal street gang members from Regina living on South Hill. With names like The Native Syndicate, The Indian Posse, The Black Dragons and others. These street gangs, or at least members of them, have been in the city. Whether or not they reside here permanently is unknown. But they have been here. They have "worked" here. These people they identified are not the creation of Moose Jaw, their ventures were not home grown, they were transplants.
But what if I told you we have our very own gang, that originated here? Is it possible that Moose Jaw had the foundations for gang life; and it's appearance and activity helped to fuel the spread of meth abuse. Maybe before I go any further, I should define what a "gang" is.
To paraphrase the Criminal Code of Canada, section 467.1(1) a criminal organization (gang) is a group of three or more individuals out to commit one or more serious offences in a criminally organized manner. It cannot be a spur of the moment, one-time crime. It doesn't matter how they are organized, just that one or more members is receiving a material benefit or money.
Through the use of multiple sources, I was able to gather information proving one group’s existence which may well fit the definition of a criminal organization or gang, involving Meth trafficking in Moose Jaw.
I have used more than 20 sources. Each of which proved to me their association with a certain group of individuals, many doing so with photographic evidence. My sources often told me stories with similar, overlapping details which seemingly confirming what happened. I guaranteed anonymity to the people who were willing to speak with me. Nobody wanted their names mentioned in the press, every one of them was scared of retribution, and, as I later learned, for very good reason. There was definitely a brutally violent side to this gang. Since so many of the people whose lives I probed into are, have been and will be, before the courts, I agreed not to identify them, to insure it doesn't affect their trials.
This is a story which came in tidbits, over 14 months. Some periods I would be inundated with a healthy serving of stories and details, other times I would recover nothing but crumbs.
My sources told me the story of the Four-Five, a loosely organized gang, which has it's roots right here in Moose Jaw. The story they told me is the Four-Five’s; from it's infancy to it's illegal involvement with the crystal meth trade.
Four-Five was largely the creation of two brothers who grew up just north of Sask Polytechnic. Former neighbours tell me of the two cute, active, young boys they always saw with their grandmother. I spoke to their former King George School classmates, who told me the story of one of the brothers who seemed to always be in one form of trouble or another.
A couple of kids, whose stories were known in the neighbourhood, who were abandoned by their mother as infants and raised, largely, by their father and their grandmother, both beginning to suffer from alcoholism. The neighbourhood kids would speak of one child in particular, arguably the toughest kid and the biggest bully at King George School. But at the same time, a child simply looking for acceptance and just wanting to belong. The story progresses on through high school. The story about the two brothers became one of two brothers who used to hang out with a bunch of “very tough skids”. As they hit their late teens, and/or early 20’s, nobody could tell me for sure, it would become common for them shout the word "Four" while holding up four fingers on their left hand, then, immediately holding up five on their right while shouting "Five".
This is the start of the Four-Five.
As they grew older, “nobody would mess with them. Or they would beat you up". I was told this by someone familiar with the brothers, and the group, throughout their school years and into early adulthood.
"You didn't want to mess with these guys or they would beat you up. Plus if they got thrown in jail, their gang members would bail them out,” a separate source told me.
Fear of violent retribution surrounded the brothers. A check into of proceedings does show a couple members of this gang have been charged with aggravated assault. I remember people used to joke about the strip on Manitoba Street, between the bars. They nicknamed it “Winnipeg Street", on Twitter, because of all of the violent altercations involving weapons. The thing is, if you check the court records, the people arrested then were often affiliated with the Four-Five.
Others, though, have outright scoffed at the idea of an organized gang germinating and taking root in the city. Someone with a good knowledge of the downtown described them as “a bunch of little punks that are wannabe hard-core gang-bangers”. But the same person admits many of the individuals involved in meth “are connected. They all know each other.”
But really, is it so inconceivable for a gang to make its home in Moose Jaw? Or is it more likely that they were they just a bunch of buddies who knew each other from elementary and high school, who turned to drug use and then did some selling? Truthfully, it is hard to tell.
The biggest concern I had was whether or not the authorities classified them as a gang? Or is this just how they chose to present themselves?
The Four-Five group is small, but it's members were allegedly involved with street level trafficking of cocaine as well as crystal meth. The best estimate of Moose Jaw membership is about six. I was also told they had about 9 members in Regina. They are mainly active in the Queen City. Presently two of their main members are facing trafficking charges; for meth.
I spoke to someone once associated with the Four-Five, and after three years of not hanging around with them, he said, “I'm finally getting my life back together.”
The group is highly transient. Members have floated between Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Regina and Saskatoon. Members have faced trafficking charges in Saskatoon. Only to return to Moose Jaw and commit other criminal offences while out on bond. The Four-Five are tied to Moose Jaw through family. They live here. Some grew up here. It's the main reason why they keep returning here, I was told.
So what other crimes have this group been connected with? I did some investigating and spoke with people aware of their activities. In the past, one member asked a stranger in a downtown hotel for a cigarette. The person refused and ended up getting stabbed. On another occasion, one member got into an altercation with someone in a lobby at a downtown bar and pulled out bear spray. When he used it, it spread throughout the entire bar. He was “trying for one guy and ended up gassing the entire bar,” a confidential source told me. I found it hard to believe, but I asked around and multiple sources confirmed the incidents did happen. Many of them can be found with a simple google search.
In another instance, I was told the Four-Five members did a drive-by bear spraying of an innocent pedestrian. In a media report, MJPS described it as "possibly gang related.” They also warned parents to be aware of who their children were associating with, as gangs may be recruiting.
Googling the names of those involved in this self-declared gang leads to being confronted with a litany of charges they've either faced or been convicted of. From breaking and entering to home invasions to aggravated assaults, weapons charges and drug trafficking.
The Four-Five has also tried recruiting; targeting “punk native kids for their little gang” someone, who, at one time was very closely associated with them, told me. The recruitment process was not highly successful, they also said.
Members of the Four-Five first began selling cocaine. What could have driven the members move from cocaine to meth sales? I thought it might be economics, but I discovered it was tragedy that guided the Four-Five into the crystal meth business. About three and a half years ago, the two brothers’ father died from a drug induced heart attack. The one brother, sadly, found his father lying dead early one morning. The tragedy was a brisk step into a bottomless abyss, with, what appeared to be, no turning back.
“He used to be a good person, but once his father died he became horrible,” a source told me about one of the brothers.
Worse yet, his surviving grandmother was described as a chronic alcoholic, with a “shot liver and yellow in colour.”
Sorrow turned into Meth use, personal addiction then rapidly into Meth dealing. This was the Spring of 2014, just after Meth started appearing in larger quantities in the City. So began Four-Five's moves into the meth trade.
Now, I’m not saying the Four-Five is responsible for introducing Meth into Moose Jaw. But if you look at the timeline of when they started using and selling Meth, you'll see that it matches directly with the violent crime spike the city is now experiencing. The best I could determine, the members selling Meth were so initially successful, because they were experienced dealers with a history in the cocaine market, and they already had a reputation, plus a clientele base. But of course, other solo distributors were also involved in Meth sales.
In the drug world, the Four-Five are small fish. They aren't busy staking out turf in Moose Jaw. They weren't out selling Meth by the kilo. It's not that type of gang. From what I have been told and can determine, they simply helped facilitate meth's spread here. They're tied to users at the street level.
As I learned more about them, I started to plot out their appearances in the criminal justice system. They eerily matched the increased rise of crime, especially violent crime, and meth abuse in Moose Jaw. As I looked into their pasts, I discovered a time when they were seen as good kids. Just regular kids from King George School; but something changed, and as they got older, things fell apart. They headed toward lives of addiction and crime. It's a story as old as time; broken homes, poor role modelling, hardship and tragedy. A broad look at their lives does show, in many ways, as youngsters, they were victims of circumstance and not necessarily of their own doing. More than a few people spoke about them as good kids faced with insurmountable odds.
If there had been someone to step in and help this family, could all of this have been avoided? Did they stand a true chance at succeeding? Could the catalyst, which got these Moose Jaw kids together, have been removed? These are questions which plagued me as I delved into their story. Questions I will never get an answer to.
And no, this is not an excuse for leniency, they made their bed, they can lie in it, but rather, this is a look into the root causes and potential solutions.
In the end, are the people in the Four-Five a gang or not? It is something which can be debated for months. But what I can tell you though, is this: Two of the people in the group are facing charges of "Possession For the Purposes of Trafficking in Crystal Meth", on two seperate incidents. Of course, they are innocent until found guilty by a court of law.
As I looked into their faces, in their Grade 8 graduation photos, I had to wonder what they dreamt of becoming when they were impressionable students at King George School. Fire fighters, doctors, teachers. I'll likely never know. It made me think about something somebody once told me: "nobody dreams about growing up to be a drug addict.”
Meth slowly destroys lives, and rapidly spreads through communities, in ways you will never believe.
NEXT – Witness to a drug deal