The UNDERGROUND SYSTEM
Some Secrets of the Sale and Distribution of Drugs
MRS. EMILY F. MURPHY (JANEY CANUCK)
Note.—Mrs. Murphy’s first article on the drug menace created a great deal of interest and an equal degree of alarm. Newspapers in all parts of the country commented on the startling facts presented in that article, which, quite apparently, had acted as a mental jolt. As the London Free Press expressed it: “Have we swept our national house of one devil and garnished it thereafter, only to find seven other devils more wicked than the first entering in and taking possession?”
Interest is growing also in official circles and reports are being sent out from Ottawa on the growth of the habit and the steps being taken to check it. Most startling is the report recently published to the effect that drugs are being given to children on the streets in one large Canadian city with the object of making them addicts. Another official report is to the effect that less than fifty per cent, of the drugs consumed in Canada are necessary; a statement of the case that seems very mild and conservative in view of the facts that Mrs. Murphy is presenting.
A great number of letters have been received by the editors of MACLEAN’S and by the writer of the articles from people in all parts of the country. This is encouraging, for it is only through an aroused consciousness of the gravity of the situation on the part of the public generally that the menace can be successfully grappled with. To attain the first objective point — the passing of much more stringent prohibitory laws — it will be necessary for the press and the pulpit to raise a clamor that will arouse Ottawa to the real danger. Equally important is the necessity of awakening the public to the extent that every man, woman and child will know the danger and learn to shun it. The editors desire to suggest that the newspapers do their share.
WHILE the drug habit affects all classes of society in Canada, there would seem to be more addicts, per capita, of the population in some districts than others. Sometimes, however, one is inclined to think otherwise, and that the seeming difference is due to the various methods adopted in its detection.
In Edmonton, our morality squad, or “plain-clothes men,” who find prohibited drugs in the possession of any person are awarded half the fine by the magistrate. Indeed, any informant is awarded this if a conviction be
In Toronto, Winnipeg and other cities, this procedure is not pursued. It is claimed that if it were generally practised, the detectives would do no other work.
We think this is a mistaken contention for, here in the north, we have as large a quota of convictions for other criminal offences as they have in the more southerly cities.
But apart from the sharpening of the official senses where the ferreting out of drugs is concerned, a moiety of the fines ought to be paid to the men who trail down the addicts and the illicit vendors. The traffic in drugs is carried on with such strict secrecy that the utmost caution and patience are required to secure information and evidence. This being secured, to force an entry to a drug den at two o’clock in the morning when the ‘dopers’ are irresponsible, either wholly or in part, is an unpleasant and often a dangerous task. A man needs to take his courage in both hands for, generally speaking, infuriated dopers are no herd of sheep.
In smoking, the Chinaman reclines on a mattress on the floor, having beside him a pan which contains the opium ‘lay-out’. The cracks of the windows and doors are packed with wet cloths that the odor of the smoke may not escape. For the same reason, the keyhole of the door is plugged, thus preventing its being locked with a key. The door is secured with a butcher knife driven into the door-jamb.
Finally, the available furniture is piled against the door to guard against surprises.
It is this butcher knife in the door jamb that constitutes the chiefest danger to the detectives who come with an order for search, although more than one officer has been killed by a bullet sent through the panel of the door.
Two years ago, the Chief of Police at Vancouver and one of his men were murdered in this way while^waiting in a hallway for a dope-fiend to give entry.
Opium Smoking in Toronto
TN Toronto, they tell us that the Chinese used to smoke openly, but since 1911, when the Opium and Drugs Act came into force, open smoking has ceased and, as a result, there are fewer convictions.
Knowing the Chinese temperament and habits, one conjectures whether smoking is not as freely indulged in as formerly, but with probably more careful precautions and safeguards.
But if Toronto pays no douceur to the morality squad, still it has given considerable attention to the examination of the books and prescriptions of the druggists. If a druggist is selling more narcotics than other druggists he must render an accounting or lose his license.
On one occasion, to show the officers how easily it could be done, a drug “fiend” withoiít a prescription from a physician, dentist or veterinary, went out from the police station and bought several No. 1 Parke-Davis drug-kits from different pharmacists, the money having been supplied him by the detectives. It must not, however, be deduced here that this is possible in every pharmacy, for in Toronto, as elsewhere, the disreputable dispenser of drugs is greatly in the minority.
In Toronto, too, an inspector from the College of Pharmacy inspects the books of different drug shops in order that he may scrutinize and compute the sales.
It is their claim also, that the drug habit is not increasing in the Queen City.
Without seriously questioning this claim it is nevertheless hard to credit that any densely populated portion of Canada has had no proportionate share in the consumption of narcotic drugs, the importation and sale of which have so enormously increased during the past six years, especially when no special preventive efforts have been taken other than those which obtain elsewhere. No reason has been given for this phenomenon unless we accept the theory that a vastly higher moral standard prevails in Toronto than in other cities. With-
out being facetious, we are prepared to acknowledge that this is possible and may be quite true.
Narcotics in the West
TN Winnipeg, it is officially stated that the habit is *■ growing rapidly, and that the police have on their lists the names and addresses of hundreds of persons who are inveterate users of narcotics.
In British Columbia, of the 15 women confined in Oakalla Jail in the latter part of the year 1919, it was found that all were guilty of acts of immorality of a flagrant kind. Of these, 11 were found to be mentally deficient, 2 of inferior intelligence, and 2 probably normal. Of the 15, 9 were users of drugs.
In his annual report of 1918, William McRae, the Chief Constable of Vancouver, said: “I would respectfully recommend the Board that steps be taken through the proper authorities for compulsory medical treatment of persons addicted to the use of drugs. Unfortunately a number of young boys, and even girls, are in the habit of using drugs, and early and effective precautions might be the means of preventing the ruination of their lives and of making them criminals, as well as preventing the habit among their associates. In this connection, I would strongly recommend an institution in a country-place, preferably an island, where suitable employment and outdoor exercise could be provided.”
A Distributing Centre for all America?
TT was recently declared by an investigating committee in
California that the drug distribution centre for all America is in Western Canada. The evidence upon which this astounding assertion is based has not been made public, but it is quite possible, even probable, that this assertion is true.
Owing to the vigilance of the narcotic squads whose work it is to search incoming vessels on the western coast of the United States, smuggling from the Orient is becoming more difficult all the time, although the International Year Book of 1918 says that probably one-half of the opium which enters the United States is brought in by smugglers, and that despite restrictive legislation, the amount has certainly not diminished.
It was found that opium was being brought to America in chests of tea; in coal-bunkers; in the beams Of the vessels; under the stairways; behind panels in the saloon; in water-tanks, and even in the ship’s piano. Sometimes it was smuggled by means of nutshells. The nut was cut in half, the kernel removed; the cavity filled with opium and the two parts glued together again. It was sold to the drug-users in this form. Indeed, the Chinese used to smuggle opium in chairs which they said were family heirlooms, but one day the truck of a stevedore struck an heirloom on a gang-plank and released eighty pounds of opium. It was found that even the legs of this chair were stuffed with the drug.
It is claimed that less adroitness is required to land contraband in Canada than in the States, and that it is brought here daily in many and various containers, even in musical instruments.
Other than the assumption made by Government officials at Ottawa that opium was being smuggled into the States from Montreal, it had occurred to few, if any, of us that an immensely greater traffic might have gained foothold in Western Canada. We took for granted that the commerce in drugs was directly between the United States and China, not dreaming that Canada might be the intermediary in the same.
TT is alleged that this nefarious traffic in the States 1 has been partially carried on by pullman car-porters and even by Custom officials who grew rich in the trade. We are unable to vouch for the truth of this, but it might not be too hard for officials, at certain specified points, to release bonded consignments of opium which were camouflaged as tea, preserved ginger, or bamboo shoots.
These modern-day buccaneers could well afford to pay $5,000 to an official on a consignment which would net them $50,000 in profits.
“But our officials in Canada would not be guilty,” you say. Certainly not. We do not even suggest it. We are only telling the Federal Customs Department what might happen here if our immunity to bribes was not absolutely above suspicion.
When, however, it comes to railway porters—ah well! There are some we know of personally whose liberty is more attributable to their good luck than their good behaviour. Indeed, we know a certain blackamoor—an erstwhile porter—who, at the present moment, is languishing in prison on a term imposed by ourselves. This fellow is also under penalty for having in his possession what must assuredly have been the most obscene literature ever printed.
One can hardly imagine anything more dangerous than a filthy-minded drug addict in charge of a coach of sleeping people, whatever his color may be.
When this man’s quarters were raided, six pipes, a quantity of prohibited drugs and a woman were taken. The woman, who had a kind of zig-zag appearance, assured us in court that she had just “happened in” the opium rooms by the merest accident, but the tremor of an isolated muscle in her face; her trembling gait; her leaden pallor; the closely contracted pupils of her eyes; and her stupefaction which approximated senile dementia, were alldefinitely symptomatic of recovery from an opium debauch. .
Where their pullman-car employees are concerned, the railway companies leave no stone unturned to secure well-recommended porters, and to supervise these as closely as circumstances will permit, but it is not humanly possible for companies to prevent men, if these be so disposed, from giving rein, at times, to ignoble and swinish appetites. Even the Old One himself couldn’t do it.
Having said this about porters, one cannot, in fairness, leave the subject without paying tribute to those other faithful “boys” in the service who are so solid and sensible that they seem almost super-civilized. It takes rare probity of character to keep returning purses, watches, diamond rings and other mere impedimenta that careless folk lose daily in every pullman berth, to say nothing of overcoming the desperate desire of testing the contents of flasks that protrude invitingly from pockets on nearly every clotheshanger.
Yes', there are ever so many porters, however depleted their finances, who will have abolutely no truck with the scoundrelly business of drug-peddlery.
How It is Brought In
RAILWAY detectives tell us that on the west coast of Canada, opium is thrown overboard in rubber bags, or other receptacles, from incoming steamers. This flotsam is taken into open boats, at certain points in the harbors, by confederates of the smugglers, thus evading discovery in the Customs-House. They also tell us that unless you are accustomed to handling it, you might not even recognize opium as such. Commercially it comes in different forms, but, most frequently, in square plugs that are the color and shape of chewing tobacco, or in lumps like oval dumplings. The police allege that an inter-provincial traffic is carried on by means of agents. The opium is carried in tin canisters by one man, who passes on the residue to another at the borders of the next province, and so on across the Dominion.
When it comes to smuggling narcotics across the boundary line between Canada and the United States, a whole volume could be written on the subject, but one has no desire to teach “Smuggling without a Master,” so one refrains. Sufficient to say, that the detectives now look with close scrutiny into the extra car-tire at the back.
/"kPIUM is the juice of white pop^ py (papaver somniferum) and is the sap which exudes from incisions made on the outside of the capsules when they have attained their full growth after the fall of the petals. The poppy was well known to ancients, its cultivation being mentioned by Homer, and its medicinal properties by Hippocrates.
Morphin is an alkaloid of opium —that is to say, its active vegetable principle having alkaline qualities.
Opium and its derivatives are distinguished by a flavor that is acrid, nauseous and bitter.
Opium is smoked; morphin is taken hypodermically, or by the mouth. Hypodermic injections are more favored by the users of this particular drug in that they become intoxicated without the disagreeable effects of the substance. Then, too, when morphin is swallowed, it takes longer to produce its solacing effects.
Contrariwise, the use of the hypodermic is attended with dangers from an infected solution or from a dirty needle. Frequently, morphin habitues will insert the needle into their arms without the precaution of rolling up their sleeves. This infection results in the formation of abscesses.
Last year, a young bride of three months who had married an addict, and had herself become one, was charged with having opium in her possession unlawfully.
During the trial, she became hysterical and began to beg piteously for morphin of which she had been deprived from the day previously. She complained of intense neuralgia, chills, thirst and abdominal pains. Finally she collapsed. Surely, the soul of her was “full of scorpions: she had supp’d full with horrors.”
On stripping her for a hypodermic injection, the physician and matron found her body to be literally covered with angry-looking carbuncles which the physician said were due to infection from the needle. She became quiet immediately after she had received her daily ‘dope.’
Her husband, who was charged conjointly, was in hardly a more comfortable condition, complaining of muscular cramps and profuse sweating.
This man, who came from a notable Canadian family, had already served several terms in jail for breaches of the Opium and Drugs Act. He, too, had to receive attention from the doctor who showed me the victim’s condition.
The upper part of the man’s body was so punctured by the needle that there was no flesh available for fresh ‘shots’ except on his back. His arms and chest looked more like a perforated milk-skimmer than anything else. He told us his skin had become so thick and hardened, he broke many needles in trying to insert them. He also confessed to having lost his sense of taste and that he was losing his memory. He has taken so much morphin that he will soon be immune from it as a poison and can hardly be killed by it, a state which is known to physicians as Mithridatism.
Surely the late Earl of Shaftesbury, who devoted his life to the study of social problems such as these, was wholly within the mark when he described drug-addiction as the greatest of modern abomina-
The Slavery of Drugs HE difference between the opium smoker and the morphinist, is that the opium smoker does not fear the slavery of the habit while the morphinist does. For a truth, the latter always suffers from
a sense of uncertainty and dread. The sword of Damocles is forever hanging over his head.
The smoker of “the soothing pipe” is usually quiet unless fearful of arrest, or when deprived of the drug; then he becomes highly irritable.
One who has tried the effects of the pipe puts them in this order: (1) vertigo, (2) stimulation, (3) tranquillity, (4) after three or more pipes, profuse perspiration, prickly heat, thirst, fear, intense desire to sleep. The novice usually become talkative.
The sleep which succeeds is a prolonged one. The following morning, the smoker has a headache that aches; no appetite worth mentioning, and his tongue is furred almost like a brown musquash pelt.
On the other hand the morphinist gets no pleasure but merely forgetfulness of life. If use of the drug be persisted in, he becomes egotistical, quarrelsome and difficult; also, he is subject to terrifying hallucinations. He ages quickly; becomes indolent, parasitical, totter-kneed, and without enough brawn to throw a puppy dog.
But in whatever form these drugs are taken, they degrade the morals and enfeeble the will. No matter what their status has been, inveterate users of drugs become degraded. All are liars: nearly all become dishonest. Being deprived of the drug, they will go any length to get it, even to thievery and prostitution. While sober they are uncomfortable, and prolonged abstemiousness hurts them like nails driven into the flesh.
Because her craving for the drug had to be satisfied, a young woman from one of the rural districts sold her handbag, dressing-case, fur-coat, and wedding-ring in Edmonton. We were not able to recover these, having no one to corroborate her statements. When not shut up, her days and nights were spent in garages and opium
After all her negotiable apparel had been sold, we got her a railway ticket and persuaded her to go home. She is making a tremendous effort to recover from “The grey peril,” and it is now a year since she visited town.
Being superstitious, and realizing the danger of boastfulness, we are here ‘touching wood.’
What Constitutes an Addict?
/\ N answer to this question was given to me by Dr.
James A. Hamilton, Commissioner of Correction for New York City. He says: “If a person takes opium or its derivatives for three months steadily, taking three hypodermics a day, he will become a true addict, and were he to stop abruptly he would show decided withdrawal symptoms. As a rule, addicts must increase the dosage as they go^along in order to obtain the desired results.”
A victim has given us a similar answer in which he addresses Morphia as a goddess who has turned to be a dragon :
“One swift prick was enough In days gone by to invoke her:
She was incarnate love
In the hours when I first awoke her.
Little by little I found
The truth of her stripped of all clothing,
Bitter beyond all bound,
Leprous beyond all loathing.
Dragon of lure and dread,
Tiger of fury and lust,
The quick in chains to the dead,
The slime alive in the dust.”
Making Use of the Chinamen
CLANNISHNESS is one of the most notable features of opium smokers Like the drinking of wine, it makes for a foregathering.
Because of the dangers attending its detection, much care must be exercised in its use, especially in Canada where neighbors are inclined to be friendly and to call at unseasonable hours. Yes! and neighbors may even be curious. “Of course, 1 am interested in my neighbor,” says one. “Why shouldn't I be? That fence between us only whets my appetite.”
As a result , in certain houses and hotels —both rural and urban --the users of the pipe borrow the ‘layout’ belonging to the Chinese cook. Should the noisome, insinuating odor escape, no one is suspeeted but Ah Sin. Should the place be raided, Ah Sin is apprehended for being in the unlawful possession of opium. He pays the fine, this sallow, unsmiling Oriental, and says nothing, for, after all, he loses nothing but his inconsiderable reputation.
Continued on Page 55
Continued from page 13
'The Boss he pay back, all light. Boss he hop-head allee samee China boy.”
Do you say this thing is abhorrent and hardly credible?
Sirs and Mesdames, on such evidence we, ourselves, have issued orders for search and warrants for apprehension. The evidence is usually obtained by secret service men in the employ of the police departments.
How Opium is Smoked
Ä/E! said awhile ago that opium smokers * * liked company, a fact that frequently tends to their undoing, for when an addict has been in custody for a day or so, he will often give the names and resort of his particular coterie if, by this means, he can secure even one smoke to satisfy his craving.
Sometimes, a group of entertainers will live at a house where all the lodgers are drug-takers. Recently, a landlady and three of her lodgers were charged before us with having opium in possession for other than scientific or medicinal purposes. The boarders, all of them under twenty-two years of age, were dancers and singers at cabarets. All were fined except the landlady, a bleared, toneless, half-awake creature, who was committed to jail.
Not so long ago, a Scotch detective brought in a Chinaman and a girl whom he found smoking in a piano case, underneath a curtain of hemp sacking. The girl, who was rarely beautiful and only seventeen years of age, was released from custody on suspended sentence to take a position as stenographer in a legal firm.
This same Scotch detective, whose nose has been specially constructed for smelling cooked opium, found a negro smoking the drug in a wardrobe with a white woman on either side of him. . Over their heads they had a thick tartan which our detective calls “a pled,” and into this the negro blew the smoke which the women inhaled. By this means the three persons became intoxicated on the one pipe. Folk must exercise thrift these days when cardcakes are high.
This misuse of the tartan was, to our Scotsman, the evidence of an amazing effrontery; the proof of a unique unscrupulousness, with which the breach of the Opium and Drugs Act was a mera bagatelle.
We spoke of “card-opium” just now. For the uninitiated, it is here explained that for selling in a small way, opium is made into cakes about the size of a fifty-
cent piece. This is placed on the centre of a playing-card, and the card is bent in half, the opium adhering to the inside like a wad of chewing gum.
This opium is smoked over two or three times, as the residue of ash is large. By some, this ash is called inchi. After repeated smokings, to give it “pep,” it is mixed with a sort of salt which is a Chinese preparation.
Or the ash may be mixed with cocoanut oil and taken internally. These are called “hop-pills.” There are one-pill men ; twopill men, and three-pill men.
Or, again, the ash may be made into a thick gummy liquid. This is drunk with black tea or Boston coffee, but not with
The faces of inveterate smokers are darker than those of the morphinists, and anyone who has to deal with drug-fiends may learn to know the difference. The smoker’s face becomes sallow and deadlooking. Sometimes, his head looks like a mere mummified skull.
Opium and the Birth-Rate
TN Article I of this series, we said tfiat
opium and its derivatives were frequently used by people for their aphrodisiacal qualities, but that the end was impotence and sterility.
A young woman who came to my office after her release from jail, complained bitterly that now, because she became normal again, she was liable to motherhood. Physicians have since assured me that the woman’s claim was correct; that drug-addiction leads to amenorrhoea.
While it is well that opium addicts tend to become impotent yet, in face of a persistently falling birth-rate, this phase of drug-addiction is of the utmost importance, and is another reason why the scourge should be firmly dealt with in Canada.
Dr. C. W. Saleeby has recently pointed out that in Great Britain, in 1919, for the first time, the deaths have actually exceeded the births. He also points out that there are more Germans in Germany than there are Britons in the whole of our Empire, and contends that in a generation or so, these prolific Germans, with the equally prolific Russians, and the still more fertile yellow races, will wrest the leadership of the world from the British.
Wise folk ought to think about these things for awhile.