On June 8

Border guards intercept gang members, smugglers

Border guards at the Pacific Highway Crossing seized guns and other prohibited products recently.

A former motorcycle-gang member and two men attempting to smuggle in 738 pounds of “kava” – a substance associated with serious liver dysfunction – were among those denied entry to Canada via the local border crossings recently.

According to officials with the Canada Border Services Agency – who released the information last week – the ex-gang member arrived at the Pacific Highway office on foot on June 18 to inquire about his admissibility. He was turned away after telling border officers he was a member of the Bandidos Motorcycle Gang in Washington State from 2000-2005.

The kava carriers were stopped June 8, after border officers found several bags of the flour-like product in the rear of their vehicle.

According to CBSA, kava is restricted for import as personal use only; its products contain kavalactones, which have been associated with liver dysfunction; and Health Canada placed a stop-sale order on it in 2002.

Further examination of the men’s vehicle found a larger quantity of kava concealed in a plywood compartment, which the travellers apparently later admitted they were trying to smuggle into Canada. Investigation determined the men had imported an additional 1,000 pounds of kava into the U.S. from an unidentified foreign country.

Both men – who had initially told the officers they were headed to a religious ceremony underneath the Patullo Bridge – were arrested and a total of 13 bags of kava with an estimated value of $37,000 were seized.

Other travellers intercepted at the Pacific Highway border in June included:

• Two gun-toting Americans who were turned away on June 26, after guards found a loaded but unchambered .38, with an additional magazine and box of ammunition, in one of the travellers’ luggage. The one individual was arrested, and both the gun and vehicle were seized. Charges are pending;

• A lone male who had boarded a northbound passenger bus without the driver’s knowledge and attempted to avoid detection at the border crossing by disembarking and then reboarding after the bus was inspected. A criminal-record check revealed that the man was previously been convicted of burglary with a deadly weapon and possession of stolen property over $5,000; and,

• Three U.S. residents who were seeking entry to attend a spiritual retreat, after border officers determined one of the three was a member of a gang in the ’90s that committed violent acts. Criminal record checks revealed that he had spent a year in prison for ingesting one kilogram of cocaine and attempting to smuggle it from Columbia to Italy. The male was arrested and detained for an admissibility hearing. He was ordered deported on July 4; his companions voluntarily returned to the U.S.

Impaired drivers were also encountered at the local ports. Of 20 such arrests last month district-wide, six were at the Douglas port and 10 at Pacific Highway border.