With only one large inflatable patrol boat to check more than 18,000 privately-owned U.S. vessels annually approaching southern Vancouver Island for illegal firearms and drugs, the Canadian Border Services Agency does a pretty good job.
Rather than complain about not having more than a 9.5-metre rigid hull inflatable vessel, the MV Portcullis, at its disposal, CBSA officers displayed their haul to the media last Friday — 47 illegal firearms and other prohibited weapons, including high-calibre handguns, a U.S. military AR15 assault rifle with several clips of ammunition, switch blades, cans of bear spray designed for use against people, and even brass knuckles attached to a very big knife blade.
There was also a blow-gun, deadly throwing stars and other dangerous weapons.
Not displayed was the large amount of illegal drugs, from cocaine and marijuana to assorted other narcotics outlawed in Canada.
And the marine border services team turned back 404 people, mostly individuals with serious criminal histories.
The Portcullis and the agency’s mobile enforcement team intercept what the border agency calls “inadmissible persons and illegal contraband entering Canada.”
CBSA spokesperson Adam Coultish said those busted risk having their boats and contraband confiscated, but most of those caught don’t lose their pleasure boats when they pay the $1,000 fine per gun or drug violation. The contraband is kept by the border service and then destroyed.
Border service agents have heard all the excuses imaginable, especially people who claim they didn’t know about Canada’s weapons and guns laws, Coultish said.
“But we provide every traveller the opportunity to say if they have them.”
A lot of people don’t tell, but generally act suspicious and cause the marine border agents, well versed in where people hide illegal weapons and contraband, to search for — and find — the illegal drugs and guns.
People who admit they are carrying weapons are generally sent back to their side of the border where they can drop off their weapons before sailing back to Canada, Coultish said.