FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – M’Chigeeng, ON, April 22, 2024 – The United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin (UCCM) Anishnaabe Police is creating its first full-time Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking and organized crime, and make all communities on Manitoulin Island safer.

Since 2021, UCCM Anishnaabe Police’s drug enforcement investigations have resulted in 85 people being charged with over 363 criminal and drug offences and the seizure of illegal and prescription drugs with a street value over $854,000.

“Our community members have been telling us we need to do more to keep drugs out of our communities,” says Derek Assiniwe, Chairperson, UCCM Police Service Commission. “We have been fighting to change the discriminatory terms and conditions of our funding, which prevented us from creating specialized units. Now that we’ve gotten some changes from the federal government, we can take this important step to make Manitoulin Island a safer, better place.”

In June 2023, then Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino removed the prohibition on specialized police services in the Indigenous policing program. This allowed the UCCM Police Service Commission to take steps to set up its first DEU. The DEU will take a proactive approach to combatting mid- to upper-level drug traffickers using a variety of police investigative techniques.

“A full-time drug unit on Manitoulin Island will make the communities we serve, and all communities on the Island, safer,” says James Killeen, Chief of Police. “Drug activity is not limited to our communities. It crosses municipal borders and is connected to drug and gang activity throughout Ontario.”

Twenty-two of the individuals charged with drug offences by UCCM Anishnaabe Police since 2021 were from the Greater Toronto Area. UCCM Anishnaabe Police joined the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario (CISO) in 2021 and partners with Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on drug investigations, as well as sharing information with Greater Sudbury Police Service, Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service and Toronto Integrated Guns and Gangs Task Force.

“We value our partnerships with other police services to collect intelligence and share information regarding criminal organizations and individuals that are active across our jurisdictional borders,” says Chief Killeen. “At the same time, our First Nations community’s leadership and citizens have expressed an overwhelming interest in having a DEU be a permanent part of their Police Service to enhance our ability to proactively combat drug trafficking and related crimes.”

The unit will start with five full-time officers, including a Detective Sergeant and four Detective Constables. UCCM Anishnaabe Police is looking for experienced officers, both internally and externally, to fill these positions. Interested officers can learn more at:

Chief Killeen is available for interviews.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Hilary Friesen

UCCM Anishnaabe Police is a First Nations-run police service, serving six First Nation Communities on Manitoulin Island and on Highway 6 in Ontario. UCCM Anishnaabe Police works closely with the communities they serve to develop innovative, culturally responsive programs, enforce the law and improve community safety and wellness.