Cross-Border Pot Probe Nets 14 Arrests

Cross-Border Pot Probe Nets 14 Arrests
Posted by FoM on January 23, 2001 at 17:50:58 PT
By Terri Theodore
Source: Vancouver Sun 
An 18-month, cross-border investigation has cracked a major marijuana smuggling ring, resulting in 14 arrests and the seizure of a Surrey, B.C., house, luxury cars, a speedboat and even a helicopter, police said Tuesday. Police made arrests on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border and also seized 320 kilograms of pot, three kilos of cocaine, guns and $480,000 US and $104,000 Cdn in cash, representatives of the RCMP, B.C. Organized Crime Agency and U.S. Customs said at a news conference. 
The senior U.S. Customs officer overseeing the American side of the probe touted the results as a good example of cross-border co-operation to choke off the Canada-U.S. drug trade. Americans, embroiled in a costly, decades-long drug war, have often criticized Canadian justice and law enforcement as too lenient. But Rodney Tureaud, special agent in charge of the U.S. Customs investigation office in Seattle, praised his links to Canadian police as the best relationship he's had in 25 years of law enforcement. "They call us on a routine basis," said Tureaud. "We go out morning, day and night together. You couldn't get more bang for your buck." The busts began in June 1999, when U.S. Customs agents arrested a Canadian and American in Washington state and seized 14.5 kilos of pot. "That's where we first became interested in this," said RCMP Cpl. Garry Begg. "From that point on, we used a myriad of what are today considered to be normal police procedures to investigate it." Arrests and intelligence-gathering helped investigators on both sides build a picture of the smuggling operation. In once instance observed by investigators, potent Canadian-grown marijuana, known as B.C. Bud, was flown by helicopter from the Abbotsford area, east of Vancouver, and dropped across the border in Washington state, near Mount Baker, said Begg. U.S. Customs officials said the smugglers then brought cocaine back to Canada. "The purpose for their existence was to traffic marijuana into the United States," said Begg. "As far as we were concerned they were highly organized and very good at what they were doing." The helicopter believed used for the smuggling runs, which police valued at $600,000 US, was seized under proceeds-of-crime legislation, along with two Mercedes-Benz cars, a pickup truck and a speedboat. "It's the first helicopter that I've ever seized," said Tureaud, whose agents grabbed the aircraft in Bellingham, Wash. More than a dozen Canadians and Americans were charged over the span of the investigation with various drug-trafficking, money-laundering, conspiracy and weapons counts. No names were released. A number in the United States have already been convicted, imprisoned and released. Tureaud acknowledged marijuana traffic into the United States has increased yearly, but sidestepped questions about the effectiveness of Canadian law in curbing its cultivation here. "I think the smuggling of narcotics into the United States concerns all of us," he said. "Your laws are what you have to live with and our laws are what we have to live with. We're working together to make it as effective as we can." Begg said police are aware of large organized trafficking operations. "This is one small cell," he said. "We know that we have a huge job out there. "As much as we've done, there remains that much more to be done in this regard." Canada's fairly new proceeds-of-crime law, which allows police to seize property and money that can be linked to criminal activity, is an effective tool, said Begg. "It is one of the methods that we can use to deter people from entering a life of crime," he said. "If we can seize homes, if we can seize boats and cars, that's a fairly significant legislation and it works very well for us." Langley, B.C. (CP) Complete Title: Cross-Border Pot Probe Nets 14 Arrests, Helicopter, Boat and Car Seizures Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)Author: Terri TheodorePublished: January 23, 2001Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2001Address: 200 Granville Street, Ste.#1Vancouver BC V6C 3N3Fax: (604) 605-2323Contact: sunletters pacpress.southam.caWebsite: Article:Major Drug Bust on U.S. - Canadian Border
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: