CBSA Pacific Region: Operational and enforcement highlights from 2021
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Pacific Region today released operational and enforcement highlights covering the period from January 1 to October 31, 2021.
The Pacific Region is home to 43 land, air and marine ports of entry, including an international mail centre, Canada’s second busiest airport and largest marine port.
The Region has five districts (West Coast and Yukon, Okanagan and Kootenay, Metro Vancouver, Pacific Highway and Vancouver International Airport) and three divisions (Intelligence and Enforcement Operations, Trade Operations and Corporate, Programs and Integration Management).
Keeping our communities safe
On February 8, the CBSA Metro Vancouver District Marine Operations and the CBSA Pacific Region Intelligence Section worked closely with the RCMP Federal Serious & Organized Crime section to investigate suspected smuggling of contraband goods in the marine mode. Upon examination of two ocean containers, the CBSA seized approximately 1,000 kilograms of opium, making it one of the largest opium seizures for the CBSA on record. The estimated value of the seizure is $10 million.
In February, the Pacific Region Intelligence Section, with assistance from the CBSA National Targeting Centre, identified a marine container of interest and referred it to Metro Vancouver District Marine Operations for examination. The container held multiple drums and the contents were confirmed to be GBL, which is essential to the production of “date-rape” drugs. Over 17,852 litres of GBL was seized, estimated at $1.8 million.
On February 20, two travellers were in-transit to Alaska and entered Canada at the Abbotsford-Huntingdon port of entry. During the secondary examination, border services officers found two rifles, two handguns, six handgun magazines, six rifle magazines and a firearms suppressor, as well as 28 vials of suspected steroids, 40 methamphetamine pipes and other personal amounts of narcotics. The traveller that owned all the prohibited goods was arrested and charged by the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section under the Customs Act and the Criminal Code.
At the Fraser port of entry on March 3, border services officers seized two undeclared firearms and currency from a traveller seeking entry into Canada. The undeclared currency had a value of over $49,000 CAD. The travellers were issued fines and were directed back to the United States (US).
On March 18, a commercial driver entered Canada in the Pacific Highway District in a tractor-trailer carrying personal care products. During the secondary examination, border services officers unloaded the trailer and found 64 individually wrapped brick-shaped objects suspected to be cocaine. The bricks had a combined weight of 71.5 kilograms with an estimated value of over $3.5 million.
At the Osoyoos port of entry, border services officers seized two over-capacity magazines and a suppressor on April 30. The subject was arrested and charged by the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section.
On May 20, a traveller arrived at the Douglas port of entry and immediately border services officers noticed signs of impairment. A search of their vehicle revealed three empty bottles of vodka and one partially consumed, as well as undeclared firearms, over-capacity magazines, a silencer and ammunition. All firearms and weapons were seized. After sobering up, the traveller paid a $4,600 fine and returned to the US.
On May 25, two US residents in-transit through Canada were referred for a secondary examination. Border services officers in the West Coast and Yukon District conducted a search, seized eight firearms and detained food, plant and animal products including three bobcat skins, one bear paw and two ivory tusks. The traveller who owned the goods was charged under the Criminal Code and the Customs Act.
Following an investigation that began in 2012, by the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section, two individuals pled guilty to immigration fraud in June 2021. Sofiane Duhak pled guilty to seven counts of S.127(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and was sentenced to a fine of $14,000 and a Conditional Order Sentence for a period of 24 months less a day. Balraj Bhatti pled guilty to eight counts of S.127(a) of the IRPA, three counts of S.366(1)(b) of the Criminal Code and six counts of S.368(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.
As part of Budget 2018 funding for the opioid crisis, the Government of Canada dedicated $31.6 million over five years to equip the CBSA to more safely and effectively detect, identify and interdict fentanyl and other highly toxic substances at ports of entry. In June, a Designated Safe Sampling Area (DSSA) officially opened in Air Cargo Operations in the Vancouver International Airport District. DSSAs allow on-site CBSA chemists to test and analyze suspected highly toxic substances and provide real-time identification of drugs and precursor chemicals.
On July 12, border services officers from Vancouver International Airport Air Cargo Operations intercepted 232 shipments containing 300 brass knuckles with an auto retractable knife. In a separate incident in July, 500 cartons of cigarettes declared as “camping tents” were seized.
On July 16, border services officers from the Metro Vancouver District examined a container and found a large quantity of an unknown chemical substance. After testing, the substance was confirmed as 4-Piperidone, a Class A precursor under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Over 1,500 kilograms of 4-Piperidone was seized, which had the potential to produce over 2 billion doses of fentanyl.
On August 5, border services officers at the Vancouver International Mail Centre examined an export parcel that was declared as “used books.” Upon inspection, each book had a clear plastic bag containing white chunky crystals. The eight books contained a total weight of 11.4 kilograms of suspected methamphetamine with an estimated value of $1.4 million.
At the Prince Rupert Container Examination Facility, border services officers seized over 6,900 prohibited knives from commercial shipments in the months of August and September.
On September 5, border services officers at the Vancouver International Airport performed a currency verification on a traveller returning from a trip to the US, revealing over $40,500. The money was seized as suspected proceeds of crime.
At the Roosville port of entry, border services officers seized three prohibited handguns and 11 prohibited magazines on September 21. The driver was arrested and the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section charged the subject on September 22 in Cranbrook Provincial Court with one count each of smuggling and making a false statement under the Customs Act as well as three counts of possession of a loaded prohibited firearm and one count of possession of prohibited devices under the Criminal Code.
From January 1 to October 31, border services officers at the Vancouver International Mail Centre conducted 216 separate seizures of firearm suppressors, totalling 318 firearm suppressors (as some seizures contained multiple devices). Several of these seizures have further led to multi-jurisdictional search warrants and arrests conducted by the Pacific Region Criminal Investigations Section.
The CBSA places highest priority on removal cases involving national security, organized crime, crimes against humanity, criminals and individuals with immigration violations. During this period, the Pacific Region Inland Enforcement Section enforced 138 removals relating to persons with criminality, including foreign nationals with violent histories of sexual assault and murder, as well as gang members.
Facilitating a strong economy
While traveller volumes were again lower in 2021 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, officers in the Pacific Region still processed approximately 573,967 commercial trucks and 24,112,356 courier shipments, and released 2,070,836 commercial shipments.
The CBSA Trade Operations Division in the Pacific Region is responsible for conducting trade compliance verifications and trade services including rulings, B2 adjustments, drawbacks and duties relief. A few notable cases include:
In April, a Senior Officer Trade Compliance (SOTC) reviewed an apparel importer for a valuation verification. As the importer was not a resident of Canada and did not have a permanent establishment in Canada, the company formally adjusted the original transactional accounting, amounting to over $11 million in value for duty for the reassessment period. As a result, the CBSA recovered a total of $2,647,062 in customs duties, GST and interest.
Also in April, a SOTC received and processed B2 adjustments from a voluntary disclosure request. Under the Voluntary Disclosure Program, the company voluntarily corrected their value for duty on all importations from September 2016 to December 2019 to include transfer price payments from the importer to their parent company. As a result, the company formally adjusted the original transactional accounting, amounting to over $2.7 billion in value for duty for the reassessment period, and the CBSA recovered a total of $22,986,911 in customs duties, GST and interest.
In September, a SOTC completed one Tariff Classification verification and two monitoring verification cases for a single Canadian importer. The verifications were to ensure the company was classifying its imported dairy products on the Import Control List correctly. As the importer did not meet Section 32(2) of the Customs Act, they must now formally adjust the original transactional accounting for the value for tariff classification. These three verification cases together resulted in a recovery request of over $109 million in customs duties, GST, interest and penalties.
On September 5, CBSA employees from the Vancouver International Airport District participated in the Cops for Cancer – Tour de Coast event to raise funds for childhood cancer research and programs. The CBSA riders cycled over 800 kilometres and altogether, raised $314,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
- 2021 Year in review: Accomplishments by the numbers
- COVID-19: Summary data about travellers, testing and compliance
- Canada Border Services Agency seizures
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