RCMP Investigates Tainted Arkansas Prison Blood in Canada

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Wednesday, January 17, 2001

RCMP investigates tainted Arkansas prison blood in Canada

By DENNIS BUECKERT -- The Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- The RCMP has opened an investigation into the importing of contaminated prison blood from Arkansas during the 1980s, The Canadian Press has learned.

There is speculation the investigation may be heating up due to the imminent departure of President Bill Clinton, former governor of Arkansas, from the White House.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Bill McAlpine said Wednesday two officers based in Montreal will be assigned exclusively to pursue the Arkansas prison blood issue.

"We just thought that we, out of Toronto, just couldn't handle the issue properly, and that therefore additional resources would be required," he McAlpine said.

Continental Pharma, the now-defunct company that imported the prison blood, had its headquarters in Montreal, McAlpine noted.

"A lot of the issues arise out of the Montreal area."

The blood task force was set up about three years ago to investigate possible criminal acts that contributed to contamination of the Canadian blood supply with HIV and hepatitis C.

McAlpine said the task force, involving about 12 officers in Toronto and a couple in Ottawa, is highly active. But he could not say when its work will be complete or whether charges will be laid.

"When we make a final submission and report, obviously people higher than me will make decisions on where we're going from there, but this thing's not going away."

He declined to give more details.

There's speculation that the investigation may be getting new co-operation from U.S. authorities looking at a new administration.

Clinton was governor of Arkansas when the state permitted a now-defunct company, Health Management Associates, to collect and sell prison blood, some of which wound up in Canada.

U.S. reports say that Leonard Dunn, president of Health Management Associates, was a close friend of Clinton's. Witnesses have said the prison blood was collected under appalling conditions.

It became an important source of HIV contamination in Canada.

Mike McCarthy of the Canadian Hemophilia Society welcomed the new investigation.

"The fact that the blood task force has set up shop in Montreal, which was the epicentre of the trade of prison blood in the 1980s, shows there's something the RCMP feels has gone very, very wrong.

"We urged them to get to the bottom of this, as many of the hemophiliacs that were exposed to this are dead or dying."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), January 18, 2001


Its tragic that innocent people die from contaminated blood. This happened in the U.S. before HIV blood testing was available.

What is the statute of limitations for selling contaminated blood?

-- John Littmann (littmannj@aol.com), January 18, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ