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Old Posted Feb 10, 2008, 12:53 AM
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Cocaine Central

Cocaine Central

Smugglers have turned Metro into a global distribution hot spot
Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, February 09, 2008
B.C. has become a major hub for cocaine smuggling over the past two years, with gangs bringing in the drug from the U.S. for transport across Canada and around the world, says an internal Canada Border Services Agency report.

The October 2007 document, obtained by The Vancouver Sun through the Access to Information Act, said the amount of cocaine seized at land border crossings in B.C. has tripled in the past few years -- with no apparent increase in local demand.

"There is such a large quantity of cocaine entering British Columbia that it is now being shipped to other countries, in addition to other provinces and territories in Canada," states the report.

It notes, for example, that one of the largest cocaine seizures ever in Australia -- 135 kilograms hidden in a shipping container -- originated in Vancouver and that five of those arrested were current or former B.C. residents.

Most of the cocaine seized at the border in B.C. is found stashed in commercial trucks, often in sophisticated hidden compartments, although the report notes "on occasion the drugs are not concealed at all and are simply sitting inside a cardboard box in the back of the truck."

The document, prepared by the CBSA's intelligence unit, notes the use of trucks to smuggle cocaine is a major shift from just a few years ago, when the Toronto airport was the destination of choice for cocaine smugglers.

"Whereas, most cocaine used to be imported through Toronto airport on the backs, packs and bags of travellers, there has been an increase in land-based imports using commercial tractor-trailer units [and to a lesser extent, automobiles]," it states.

As recently as 2002, the report notes, 70 per cent of all the cocaine seized in Canada was discovered at the country's airports. That figure is now less than 25 per cent.

CBSA spokeswoman Paula Shore said the agency's officers seized 570 kg of cocaine in the Pacific region last year, compared with just 184 kg in 2005.

And that doesn't include cocaine discovered by the RCMP between ports of entry, or by U.S. authorities on its way to B.C., which the report suggests brings the total amount of B.C.-bound cocaine seized each year to more than a metric tonne.

Insp. Brian Cantera, operations officer for the RCMP's Greater Vancouver Drug Section, said his unit has noticed a sharp increase in cocaine exportation in B.C. since 2005.

"I would suggest that cocaine is distributed arguably worldwide from Vancouver," he said.

However, Cantera said he believes cocaine smugglers are also using border crossings in Ontario and Quebec.

In fact, the CBSA report notes the spike in B.C. cocaine seizures, which began in 2006, was followed by a similar increase at the Windsor, Ont., crossing in 2007.

It's not entirely clear what's behind the sudden increase in cocaine imports to B.C.

But the report suggests part of the reason lies in the province's booming production of marijuana, crystal meth and ecstasy for the U.S. market.

That's because drug gangs in B.C. increasingly accept payment from U.S. customers in the form of cocaine, which they then bring back into Canada to sell or export elsewhere.


Drug smugglers now prefer land border crossings over airports when trafficking drugs in exchange for other drugs.
Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun


Interestingly, the CBSA report notes the increase in cocaine seizures at B.C. land border crossings "has been mirrored by the equally rapid decrease in currency seizures."

Over just the past two years, the amount of suspicious cash seized at the border in B.C. has dropped from a monthly average of $481,000 to just $112,000.

Supt. Paul Nadeau, director of the RCMP's drug branch in Ottawa, said drug gangs like to barter pot for cocaine because it saves them the trouble of exchanging U.S. dollars into Canadian currency, and is often more profitable in the long run.

It also may be marginally easier to sneak across the border, said the CBSA report.

"A one kilo brick of cocaine takes up much less space than the equivalent amount of $20 bills," it states.

The report also includes some details on the types of people the CBSA is catching.

In the past, many of the truckers arrested for drug smuggling were new immigrants from India who police said were being exploited by drug gangs.

However, the CBSA report notes that, since late 2005, the agency has been arresting far fewer foreign-born smugglers.

"A large majority of couriers are now born in Canada [more than 75 per cent] and an even greater percentage are Canadian citizens [92.8 per cent]," it states.

The report also said the smugglers caught are almost evenly split between men and women and that many of them live in the Fraser Valley.

"One of every six cocaine couriers arrested [17.5 per cent] since 2001 gave a home address in Surrey," it states. "Abbotsford was the second most common city of residence at 9.7 per cent and Vancouver was third at 6.8 per cent."

cskelton@png.canwest.com

ONLINE

To read background documents related to this story, check out

The Sun's Paper Trail blog at www.vancouversun.com/news/blogs

BIG STASHES

Largest seizures of cocaine on and destined for the U.S.- B.C. border since 2001

CBSA Seizures U.S. seizures

Jan 12, 2006 Aldergrove 126.4 kg Oct. 31, 2006 Lynden, Wash. 257.9 kg

Jan. 16, 2007 Truck Crossing 116.8 kg Feb 28, 2005 Monroe, Wash. 169.0 kg

March 27, 2006 Truck Crossing 104.8 kg Nov. 21, 2004 Blaine, Wash. 148.0 kg

April 23, 2007 Aldergrove 95.0 kg September 2006 Yreka, Calif. 144.0 kg

Sept. 23, 2006 Cascade 87.4 kg Feb. 27, 2006 Lynden, Wash. 120.0 kg

Feb. 8, 2006 Pacific Highway 76.8 kg Oct. 19, 2006 Vernon, B.C. 109.0 kg

SOURCE: CanaDian Border Services Agency

PEACE ARCH

- Small vehicles, small seizures.

- Compared to the truck crossings, this busy crossing usually sees smaller stashes of coke.

TRUCK CROSSING

- Big payloads take big vehicles.

- This crossing had the most cocaine seizures in B.C. and was second for total weight.

ALDERGROVE (LYNDEN)

- Biggest seizure was in Lynden.

- Almost a tonne of cocaine - more than at any other crossing - has been seized here since 2001.

HUNTINGDON (SUMAS)

- More remote, not forgotten.

- While there were fewer seizures here, a handful of large ones puts it on the map.

BRITISH COLUMBIA: COCAINE HUB FOR CANADA AND ABROAD?

Border officials say they believe the spike in seizures of large shipments of cocaine since 2001 has little to do with regional residents developing a greater taste for the drug. The evidence points instead towards B.C. becoming a hub toward which shipments, many of them from the U.S. are pointed. Once here, the cocaine is re-exported to across Canada as well as to Australia, Asia and Europe. Another broad trend is declining use by smugglers of air and water, with a growing preference for land-based techniques.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/s...37b17d&k=97272
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2008, 5:27 AM
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I hope they get caught and charged in the USA, instead of in Canada. I mean, at least they wouldn't be told to do it better next time and sent out the door...
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2008, 6:00 AM
quobobo quobobo is offline
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Right, because we should totally imprison people for drug possession - who are they to decide what to put into their own bodies?

(flamewar commence!)
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  #4  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2008, 7:03 AM
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I'm not completely sure you'd be too well off after putting 258kg in to your own body
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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2008, 7:10 AM
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giallo giallo is offline
be nice to the crackheads
 
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Interesting.

When I was living in Taiwan there was a huge cocaine bust that involved a guy from Vancouver. There was a lot of BC weed around in Taipei as well. It was pretty expensive if I remember correctly.
Here is Shanghai I wouldn't be surprised if the coke comes from BC. A lot of SH gangsters have ties to HK, Taiwan and Vancouver.
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