Vermont-Quebec Border a Marijuana Smuggling Point

Vermont-Quebec Border a Marijuana Smuggling Point
Posted by CN Staff on December 21, 2004 at 15:40:01 PT
By Wilson Ring
Source: Associated Press
Derby Line, Vt. — Something didnīt seem right to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent. It was about 8 a.m. on Oct. 29 at the border crossing at the top of Interstate 91. The driver of a big pickup truck was pulling a flatbed trailer with a car on it. The driver said heīd taken the car to Canada to have it worked on. But the vehicle didnīt quite fit the trailer. The driverīs story didnīt quite fit the situation. So the agent sent the driver and his truck for secondary inspection.
A drug smelling Border Patrol dog showed special interest in the trailer. When agents pulled up the bed they found about 525 pounds of high-grade marijuana. It was one of the larger recent marijuana seizures along the border, but itīs something officers have grown accustomed to."Over the last decade or two Canadian organized crime has gotten into smuggling, particularly marijuana, in a businesslike way," said Amos Hamilton, the Customs and Border Protection port director at Derby Line. "Loads we get are professionally shrink wrapped. Itīs quality controlled. They have a product and they need it to move."Hamilton let a reporter talk to the agents who made the seizure on the condition the agents not be identified.The seizures are large and small. The Border Patrol gives the marijuana, which has the street name of Quebec Gold, a street value of $4,500 to $5,000 a pound, giving the Oct. 29 shipment a street value of more than $2.6 million.And the marijuana isnīt just smuggled in trucks. Smugglers will carry it across the border in backpacks, on sleds pulled by snowmobiles, on all-terrain vehicles; at least once smugglers used a helicopter.Itīs been packed in sealed maple syrup cans. Hockey bags are a smugglersī favorite, frequently packing marijuana in vacuum-packed bags, which is thought to make it more difficult for drug sniffing dogs to detect it.Border agents say the marijuana has been destined for places as far away as Miami, but most is headed to Boston and New York."It is supposedly one of the most potent forms of marijuana around," said Lt. Terry Kineen, a narcotics investigator for the New Hampshire State Police. "Quebec Gold is trading ounce for ounce with cocaine."The power of the money is allegedly corrupting government officials. In September a Canada Customs officer with more than 20 years experience was arrested in the United States on smuggling conspiracy charges.Rose Chetrit Palmer, 51, of Stanstead, Quebec, across the border from Derby Line, is free on bail pending trial.Canadian marijuana isnīt the run of the mill dope found on the streets of American cities, but it is turning up and down the East Coast. Itīs several times more expensive than the marijuana smuggled into the United States from Mexico and Columbia, drug agents say."Itīs highly unlikely you would see this hitting the street in any grand scale clearly because of the price," said Chief Inspector Keith Sadler, the head of the narcotics division for the Philadelphia police department. "Itīs top shelf. Thatīs the difference between drinking some low-level homemade beer and Heineken."At least part of the increase in marijuana seizures is due to the heightened security measures in place on the border since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.The Border Patrol has tripled the number of agents along the northern border. There is a heightened awareness among Customs and Border Protection agents and there are high-tech devices like X-ray machines that can give agents a glimpse inside a truck, enough to give them an idea if a truck needs to be more thoroughly searched.Now the smugglers are getting going again."There was a lull after 9/11," said Border Patrol Agent John Pfeifer, the patrol agent in charge of the Derby area. "Itīs pretty much up and running full speed."In the past 10 years the number of marijuana cases investigated by the Quebec Provincial Police has increased more than 500 percent, said Quebec Provincial Police Lt. Jean Audette, who is in charge of special programs for the department.Audette said the marijuana trade in Quebec was controlled by outlaw motorcycle gangs and most of the marijuana was for sale in Canada."We donīt know exactly the level of the smuggling between the U.S. and Canada," Audette said. "We know that marijuana is going to Ontario, New York, Vermont, Maine."Quebecīs motorcycle gangs are notoriously violent and Canadian police have started to see weapons previously unheard of north of the border. Canada has strict gun control laws.Four years ago, a local officer in Quebec was shot by a marijuana courier. He was saved by his bullet proof vest, Audette said."In some cases we seized assault firearms, AK47s. Weīve seized Uzis," Audette said."Theyīre killing each other. We donīt have any innocent people (as victims). I hope that it will not happen," Audette said.But so far, the violence hasnīt crossed the border with the smuggled marijuana. Most of the drug killings in Quebec have been among the traffickers, Audette said."Weīve apprehended people with weapons," said U.S. Border Patrol Spokeswoman Leslie Lawson. "Sometimes they have two way radios, GPS."Audette said Canadian law enforcement officials were working with their U.S. counterparts to fight the smuggling."We try every time to go to the higher level of the organized crime," Audette said. "Itīs very difficult to do that."Paula Grenier, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wouldnīt say much about the investigations in the marijuana smuggling."We have made a number of arrests up in that area. There are a number of ongoing operations," she said. "We are going to continue to investigate criminal organizations that are involved in narcotics smuggling."Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Wilson RingPublished: Tuesday, December 21, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press Related Articles:World's Undefended Border Getting Security Border a Low Note for The High Trade Canada's Pot Exports Overstated: RCMP 
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on December 21, 2004 at 19:00:01 PT
Good Guess, Sam
"The Washington Office on Latin America, citing the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the street price of 2 grams of cocaine averaged $106 in the first half of 2003, down 14 percent from the previous year's average and the lowest price in 20 years. [$53 per gram]"A gram of heroin, which cost $329 in 1981, sold for $60 in the first half of 2003, it said."
--Latest News - Report On Cocaine, Heroin Prices Suggests US Is ..."The government price for medical marijuana will be equivalent to $106 an ounce -- less than half the average street price in Canada, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Marijuana seeds will be sold at $15 for a packet of 30." --Canada Set to Dispense Marijuana as Medicine[=CAD106*2/28.5*0.8146=USD6.06 per gram] What kind of outlaw businessman would trade $53/gram cocaine, gram for gram, ounce for ounce, for $6.06/gram cannabis?
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on December 21, 2004 at 18:51:06 PT
They Can't Stop It
The fact that those in law enforcement think that they can put even a slight dent in the amount of bud coming into this country is indicative of their intelligence! Build a wall along the entire border and the smugglers will just go over,under or around it. Heck, they'll just go "through" it by bribing corrupt customs officials!There is simply too much money to be made, thanks to prohibition!Bypassing the media blackout...Conyers Calls on Major Television Networks and AP to Release the Raw Exit Poll Data! Congressman Seeks Exit Poll Data: Exit Poll "Red Shift" As Seen In Vote Numbers: Recount Stirs Trouble: results in Southwestern Ohio: No Recounts Were "Random": WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...9/11 Was an Inside Job - A Call to All True Patriots: Truth:
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on December 21, 2004 at 17:44:30 PT
john wayne, The Topic is Deadly Serious... 
but your characterization of it has me LOL! Unfortunately, this type of article is all many people get to read, due to the prohibitionist media blockade. No wonder some people keep voting prohibitionists back into power.We have seen some recent progress in the reportage of medical cannabis, but many people haven't heard or read it yet. Notice the surprise of the caller to the Pot-TV show with Loretta Nall on the Roberta Franklin Show [ Pot TV News w/Loretta Nall Dec. 20, 2004 ]
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on December 21, 2004 at 17:05:06 PT
No kidding
This poor woman (Rose) must have missed a bribery payment or something. I've had people tell me that MJ is shipped through Vermont in 18-wheeler loads. They simply find a cooperative border guard & run it through his or her booth.Ounce for ounce with cocaine, what a joke. How much does 28 grams of cocaine cost? I have no idea, but I'll be it's 10 times more than weed.Interesting, no mention of the fact that 90% of Canada's cocaine and heroin are smuggled in from the US of A, that shining paragon of virtue and goodness!
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Comment #1 posted by john wayne on December 21, 2004 at 17:00:07 PT
AP right on top of it
Wow, you mean people smuggle black-market commodities across borders? And the huge potential profits allow them to contrive clever hiding places and buy lots of expensive equipment? And those same profits lead to turf wars and shootings? And the cops are assuring us that they're on the case?Stop the presses!
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