Lifestyles Of Rich & Famous Draw Airport Scrutiny 

Lifestyles Of Rich & Famous Draw Airport Scrutiny 
Posted by FoM on November 05, 1999 at 13:01:20 PT
By Bob Mitchell, Toronto Star Peel
Source: Toronto Star
Canada Customs is sending drug-sniffing dogs aboard chartered team planes and private jets at Pearson airport as part of an ``increased examination'' of sports and entertainment figures. 
So far, at least five people - including two professional National Basketball Association players - have been snared in the Pearson crackdown, and three others, business people, have been warned about other customs infractions. Late Wednesday, customs officers turned Miami Heat player Rodney Buford over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after a dog detected a small quantity of marijuana on a chartered jet bringing the basketball team to Canada. ``We have been conducting random examinations of sports teams and entertainment persons and any other persons arriving on private or charter aircraft into Canada over the past few weeks,'' Canada Customs spokesperson Mark Butler said yesterday in an interview. While customs officers refused to discuss the latest incident, sources said a Canada Customs drug detector dog initially detected the presence of marijuana on the player - while he was still on the team's chartered jet - after the plane arrived Wednesday at the private charter arrival area north of Pearson's main terminals. Butler wouldn't say whether the player was physically searched. ``This person wasn't arrested,'' RCMP Inspector Bill Matheson said. ``No charges were laid. ``It was not a lot of marijuana, and common sense has to prevail with these things,'' Matheson added. ``We're not treating him any differently than we would any traveling public member.'' But a notation under the player's name on the Canada Customs computer database means the player won't cross the Canadian border quite as freely as before, Butler noted. ``Even though no charges were laid, Canada Customs would still have recorded that person's name as somebody who came into Canada and was found to be in possession of a narcotic,'' Butler said. Despite the RCMP decision not to lay charges, Butler said the crackdown will continue. ``We have taken a number of enforcement actions, including the one (Wednesday) evening, because of this increased examination. These aircraft are being examined to ensure compliance of our laws,'' he said. ``It shows, regardless of what your status is, whether you're arriving in a private or commercial aircraft, Canada Customs will search everybody.'' Entertainment agents said yesterday they haven't seen signs of the crackdown, but added they routinely warn performers that they're crossing an international border and what this implies. Miami Heat coach Pat Riley yesterday refused to discuss the incident. ``Rodney's not with the team, as you know,'' he said. ``We've been in touch with the league, and we won't comment on it any further.'' Buford, a 6-foot-5 rookie, celebrated his 22nd birthday Tuesday. He was a second-round pick for the Heat this past June and scored two points in Heat's first regular-season game Tuesday night in Miami, in a 128-122 double overtime win over the Detroit Pistons. Last May, while playing at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., he was charged with possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol. Buford pleaded no contest to the alcohol-related charges in an Omaha court Sept. 1, and all other charges against him were dropped. But his probationary order prohibits him from using alcohol or marijuana, and Wednesday's incident will likely come to the attention of his Florida probation officer, sources said. About that incident, the Heat's Riley said: ``Rodney's a good kid, a helluva a basketball player; we believe in Rodney.'' And, Riley stressed, Buford can expect help from the team. ``If, in fact, he stubbed his toe here a bit,'' Riley said, ``we'll help him put a Band-Aid on it.'' Toronto's Raptors, which also travel on charters when the team hits the road, must clear customs in much the same place the Heat did Wednesday. They've never had anyone stopped or hauled in and, according to coach Butch Carter, have a good relationship with Customs people. ``It's by no means a pain,'' he said. ``They come on the plane, they look at our stuff; in fact, they try to make it convenient for us.'' The Raptors always make sure they have proper documentation for players, Carter said. ``In our players' manual we make it clear you're travelling to a different country,'' Carter noted. ``It's like those commercials about travelling to Europe: There are different laws and you have to obey them.'' This season, the NBA began mandatory drug testing of players for marijuana. Veteran players, who were tested at the start of training camp, can't be tested again unless ordered to by an independent arbitrator. But all rookies are tested four times during the season. With files from Shellene Drakes and Doug SmithPubdate: November 5, 1999Copyright  1996-1999, The Toronto Star Related Article:Cameras Used to Battle Drug Smuggling on Border - 7/13/99
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Comment #2 posted by Claire on November 06, 1999 at 23:15:31 PT
Customs is making a start!!!
I agree that yes it is a small amount of marijuana, which in itself is a 'soft drug'. Which maybe it should be legalized, however I think we should look at the fact that for once the judicial system is not only just preying on the lower-class and the poor, but is showing a blind eye for socio-economic status, and willing to apprehend those of better economic status.
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Comment #1 posted by Doug A on November 05, 1999 at 22:21:47 PT:
Doesn't customs have something better to do?
>a small quantity of marijuana on a chartered jetOOOH! Major national threat !! Call out the Mounties, shoot down the plane and make sure it burns all up so none of this baggie of deadly weed gets away and into the hands of someone who might... SMOKE IT and get high, and maybe have feelings of LOVE and PEACE! We can't have that - we know what's good for everyone - DRUNKENNESS, TOBACCO ADDICTION, HATRED, and WAR! WAR on drugs! Not all drugs - just those the cops can make money off of!Get real people! A little bit of a natural herb on a plane isn't a threat to anyone. Yet another bit of lunacy in the war of evermore.
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