(THUNDER BAY, ON) – We were seeking out any willing Toronto area gang member that would speak to us about certain issues that are unfolding in Thunder Bay. After months of putting out feelers and lurking sketchy neighbourhoods at sketchy times seeking a connection, we landed the one we needed.
We spoke to numerous small time drug dealers, escorts and drug users along the way. One thing rang true across all of the people we spoke to, and that’s when social assistance cheques and child tax comes out, all areas of the black market are the busiest they get all month.
What one drug dealer told us, who claims to distribute various drugs for a Toronto gang said that even tho people who are overdosing may not have children and may not directly get child tax payments, they are selling the drugs that the people who do get child tax get. His profits surge during child tax and sometimes drug dealers use their own product and overdose which would make the overdose have ties to child tax, as he usually isn’t able to party that hard.
Numerous escorts we spoke to tell us that they notice during social assistance payment periods that their businesses expand from just the wealthy old men that can be seen lurking McKenzie Street almost any day, to more low-income clientele. Their business income boosts, which is often almost always spent at their drug dealers house of choice, which once again filters back up to the southern Ontario gang members. This boost in business also contributes to the proven and marked uptick in overdoses around social assistance pay days, including child tax day.
The Toronto gang member we spoke to revealed some wild and informative details which we didn’t even think of. He said that the southern Ontario gangs get such an uptick in business from social assistance paydays that they send up at least a dozen more gang members a few days before child tax direct deposits hit until a week after welfare direct deposits come out on the first. The reason they send up extra guys a few days before child tax direct deposits is because people get their child tax in the mail a few days early and cash advance them at places like Money Mart. Business keeps booming until about 5 days after welfare direct deposits go out. At which point the extra men go back or cycle out positions with a different gang member that has been up here long enough and wants to go home to spend their ill-gotten gains.
When we questioned the Toronto gang member about the attempted abductions and what that is all about, the response was heated but direct. He said that the recent attempted abduction on Red River Road was not any sort of abduction attempt as the woman just owes money and was asked when she was going to pay. Nobody got out and surrounded her and nobody even touched her, according to the gang member we spoke to.
He further says that many of these attempted abduction attempts reported are “bullshit non-sense” and that these women owe money and are looking to dodge their bills and make up extravagant stories to get their families to pay their debts. Further, he says that these women who are buried in huge amounts of debt are invited to come down to Toronto to make more money, but only the pretty ones he said.
He further told us that these women always have the option to escort their bills away as many of them were already in that field of work in order to get high in the first place. Which he then revealed something interesting.
He said that when some girls run out of their child tax or welfare/ODSP monies, that they are so addicted they don’t know how to stop and begin offering sexual services in order to stay high. The southern Ontario gang members are no strangers to how this works he says. They will often a bedroom for these girls to work out of, but the rule is they are not allowed to have a phone or electronic device while they are working for them until they are done and ready to go home.
This system often sparks a “missing person” report after a a day or a few. At which point the gang members tell them they are “too hot” and need to square up their debt and go home. Some women become pissed off and aggressive with not only the gang members, but their own family for putting out the missing person report. To get the missing person report cancelled physical contact needs to be made with the subject before it can be rescinded.
Some of these women have ended up on the missing list numerous times. The gang member also said that sometimes men end up on the “missing person” list because they have sold their phones for drugs and are working as “door men” for a southern Ontario gang members trap house. At that point, they also become “too hot” and get laid off for a while.
Once we asked about the numerous unsolved murders in town, we were told the interview was over and had to leave.