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British Columbia-U.S. Border New Popular Point of Entry for Drug Shipments


March 1995

Canadian law enforcement officials report that they are seeing more drug smuggling activity through British Columbia destined to the U.S. (Clyde H. Farnsworth, "Drug Smugglers Use Canada's West Coast as Gateway to U.S.," New York Times, Jan. 31, 1995, p. A6).

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say that with increasing enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico border, drug traffickers are looking for new points of entry into the U.S. Mild penalties in Canada for drug offenses and the low population density of the Canadian West Coast make the border an attractive opportunity.

Officials report that the most common drug they are seeing smuggled there is heroin from the "Golden Triangle" region of Southeast Asia.

Increasing drug trafficking in the region has been blamed for a dramatic increase in the number of local overdose deaths in the last six years. Vince Cain, British Columbia's chief coroner, told the Times that the number of illegal drug overdose deaths in that region was 331 in 1993, up from 162 in 1992 and 39 in 1988.

Canadian enforcement officials say smugglers into Canada hide drugs in container vessels or fishing boats (the odor of the fish makes it difficult for drug-sniffing dogs to find the drugs). Once in Canada, the drugs are then shipped through points in Idaho, Montana, or North Dakota to high-consumption areas.