Canoe made of driftwood, pine branches used to import pot: RCMP

Sidney North Saanich arrest California man, 24, on suspicion of transporting drugs into Canada

The homemade canoe that caught the attention of marine unit RCMP off Pender Island. The California man paddling it across the Canadian border was arrested on suspicion of importing and attempting to traffic marijuana.

A routine patrol of an unusual looking vessel by the RCMP’s South Island Integrated Marine Unit landed a California man in the cells at the Sidney North Saanich RCMP station Thursday, July 12.

During their patrols near the waters off Pender Island, SIIMU officers approached a strange looking canoe, complete with a homemade canopy constructed of driftwood and pine tree branches. Inside the canoe, police found a 24-year-old man from California who told officers he planned to paddle to Bella Bella. The paddler phoned Canadian Border Services Agency to say he was crossing the Canadian border, but CBSA officers did not check his canoe.

Cpl. Erin Fraser of Sidney North Saanich RCMP said she’s not certain whether the man paddled the canoe all the way from California.

Upon inspection, officers turned up a pound of marijuana, a baton, several knives and a passport that didn’t belong to the suspect.

The man was arrested and taken to the Sidney North Saanich RCMP detachment where he remained in custody overnight and he appeared in court in Victoria on Friday.

Police are recommending charges of importation of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property and possession of dangerous weapons.

The man’s non-seaworthy canoe was towed to Pender Island.

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