RCMP Task Force Trying To Find Arkansas Blood AIDS Victims
1-13-99 Letter from the RCMP Blood Task Force to victims' groups December 03, 1998
With the introduction of new information, the investigation has become extremely focused and we have again requested information from Canadians who have any key evidence, to come forward. We have come to believe that people with key information for this investigation are out there and we need their cooperation.
The Task Force has 20 full time staff, which includes 12 investigators, a research analyst and a liaison to keep people informed. So far, the Task Force has received approximately 500 tips from the 1-888 number and two via the Internet. There have been approximately 575 interviews conducted. The investigators have traveled to the United States, Germany and The Netherlands for information, and have sought assistance from Police Agencies nationally and internationally.
Because of the complexity of the investigation and the amount of information, investigations of this kind take a long time to complete. The Task Force has streamlined and improved efficiency by using a new Major Case Management System, supported by the RCMP computer system.
We continue to urge anyone with information relating to the investigation to call the TIPS line at 1-888-530-1111 or through the Internet.
In the early 1980s, more than a thousand Canadians were infected with HIV through the blood supply; some, unknowingly, infected others. Thousands more were infected with Hepatitis C.
Some were infected after receiving transfusions of blood components, usually in a hospital, and often during surgery. Others became infected after using factor concentrates - blood products used to treat hemophilia - that were made from the pooled plasma of large numbers of blood donors.
Hundreds have died and thousands continue to suffer the effects of these blood-borne diseases.
On October 4, 1993, an Order in Council (PC 1993-1879) authorized a Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, pursuant to Part 1 of the Inquiries Act. The Honorable Mr. Justice Horace Krever was appointed commissioner, and public hearings began November 22, 1993.
During the inquiry, evidence was heard from close to 500 individuals. These included victims, employees of government agencies, expert witnesses, private industry, the Canadian Red Cross Society, and other agencies responsible for the safe delivery of blood services in Canada.
The commission's report was tabled in November of 1997. In it, Krever assigned no criminal wrongdoing. However, he did notify almost a hundred individuals, corporations and government bodies that he could make a determination relating to misconduct.
The investigation
On November 26, 1997, Commissioner Murray announced the RCMP would conduct a review of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada to determine whether there were grounds to launch a criminal investigation.
On February 12, 1998, the RCMP Blood Task Force launched a full-scale criminal investigation into the blood system in Canada.
Currently, the task force is focusing on the structures and systems relating to the decision-making processes within the Canadian blood distribution program between 1980 and 1990. This includes the heat treating of blood products, the manufacturing and distribution of factored blood, surrogate testing for Hepatitis C, and the screening and testing of blood products.
This is a very complex and delicate investigation involving thousands of victims from every jurisdiction in Canada. The task force is following a comprehensive strategy, involving coordinators and investigators in each province and territory, and partnerships with provincial, municipal and regional police services. A national, toll-free number (1-888-530-1111) has been established to gather information from people who may have information regarding decision- making within the Canadian blood system during the early- to mid-1980s.
If you have information about the Canadian blood distribution system and the decision-making process between 1983 and 1987, the RCMP Blood Task Force urges you to contact them.
We'd like to talk to you if you've seen documents, overheard conversations or attended meetings that relate specifically to decisions made about the blood distribution system during those years.
All communication with the task force will be confidential. Information can be provided anonymously.
Your information will be assessed and prioritized by the task force. Our investigators will follow- up on all tips.
There are two ways to contact the RCMP Blood Task Force:
Tips hotline 1-888-530-1111
The hotline operates Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., eastern standard time.
Callers will be asked to provide their name, address, phone number and a brief summary of their information to the operator.