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Busted at the border: $2.3B in goods seized by customs last year

  1. SamanthaRabbit
    Busted at the border: $2.3 Billion seized in goods by boarder patrol last year

    OTTAWA — Canadian officials seized illicit goods worth more than $2.3 billion at the border last year — including stashes of date-rape drugs valued at $1.4 billion.

    Records obtained by QMI Agency under Access to Information show huge hauls of booze, drugs, tobacco, guns and other prohibited weapons stopped at air, land and sea ports. Animals, birds, explosives, currency and jewelry were also confiscated under the Customs Act. The most valuable seizure was of GHB - gamma hydroxybutyric - more commonly known on the street by its date-rape drug names: Bedtime Scoop, Cherry Meth and Easy Lay.

    More than 17.3-million grams were intercepted worth nearly $1.4 billion, and caches of other date-rape drugs Ketamine and Rohypnol worth about $5 million were also nabbed.

    Sgt. Doug Culver, the RCMP's national synthetic drug co-ordinator, said GHB is used as a recreational narcotic but has become the leading date-rape drug in Canada. It is cheap to produce and can fetch $10-$20 per 5ml dose on the street.

    "It's a very nasty product - especially when it's being used for drug-facilitated sexual assaults," he told QMI.

    Prevalent and easy to obtain, GHB is also very dangerous. The threshold for potential overdose is small, and it can leave people convulsing, in a coma or dead.

    Culver said the "saving grace" in Canada is that GBL, the precursor to GHB, is controlled and sales are limited. There are typically a few large busts each year at the border, in addition to smaller smuggling operations.

    Ottawa student Marie-Eve Ruel, 19, was slipped a date-rape drug at a Hull, Que., bar last year and calls the experience “horrifying and humiliating.”

    “I blanked out. My eyes were rolling, I was whining and I was puking a lot. It hurt so much in my head it wanted to explode. I couldn’t control my movements,” she said. “I don’t remember the rest of the night.”

    Subsequent tests showed she had been administered a date-rape drug. She shudders to think what could have happened if her friends hadn’t taken care of her.

    In addition to GHB, other drugs seized at the border include hash, Ecstasy, steroids, opium, heroin and cocaine. Lots of booze was also nabbed - including 277,479 litres of beer, 77,405 litres of wine and 49,740 litres of spirits.

    Guns grabbed at the border ranged from rifles and revolvers to semi-automatic pistols, handguns and sawed-off shotguns. Among the array of prohibited weapons seized were brass knuckles, clubs, crossbows, stun guns and switchblades.

    Child pornography — including 10 books, 509 CDs/DVDs, five comic books, and 539 other materials — was also confiscated.

    Currency and other monetary items were also on the seizure roster: 22 bank drafts, two bonds, 39 cheques and 2,186 currency seizures worth nearly $40 million. Fur, skins, leather, groceries, gems, musical instruments were also seized.

    Sometimes seized items are returned after a penalty is paid, but illegal items are turned over to the RCMP, Health Canada or a CBSA warehouse for study, storage and disposal. Child porn is reviewed by an investigative unit then destroyed.

    An audit of CBSA last year found several gaps in the management of seized items, but spokeswoman Sabrina Mehes said measures have been put in place to address the shortcomings. A dedicated office to oversee the management of seized goods and stronger policies and procedures for storage and disposal have been created.

    "We are currently upgrading the physical security of the CBSA’s seized goods storage facilities up to acceptable standards, improving the access control framework for seized goods, and improving the control, monitoring and management of disposals," she said.

    Last Updated: October 17, 2010 12:00am


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