Border services officers have seized a record amount of opium – nearly 2,500 kilograms – the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced in Tsawwassen Friday morning (Dec. 16).
The CBSA said the seizure, its largest to date, happened on Oct. 25 after the CBSA’s Metro Vancouver Marine Operations examined 19 marine shipping containers. Using a “wide range” of detection tools and technology, including X-ray technology, the CBSA said officers found “irregularities in the shipping pallets as part of a deep concealment method.”
Further “physical examination” confirmed about 2,486 kilograms of opium concealed within 247 shipping pallets.
The drugs were turned over to the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime unit for further criminal investigation.
“Today’s announcement shows that our front line agencies are working hard to keep illegal substances off our streets,” Delta MP Carla Qualtrough said during a press conference at CBSA’s Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility. “This is effective and essential work that keeps communities, especially those in proximity to ports, safe from crime.”
To put the significance of Friday’s announcement into context, Qualtrough noted the seizure represents more than half of all opium seizures in the Pacific region over the past five years.
“With CBSA making this historic seizure in British Columbia, Canadians can rest assured of the excellent work being done to keep communities across Canada safe.”
Nina Patel, CBSA’s regional director general for the Pacific region, noted more than four million containers arrive in Canada via marine ports of entry every year, 52 per cent of which do so at one of the Port of Vancouver’s four container terminals.
“Our border services officers, intelligence officers and analysts work hard to ensure illicit and dangerous drugs stay out of our communities. This record seizure of opium is an example of their outstanding dedication to protect our communities,” Patel said.
RCMP assistant commissioner Will Ng said the opium seized has an estimated street value of $50 million, however officials would not comment on where the containers had been shipped from, where they were headed or whether anyone had been arrested or charged, noting the investigation is ongoing.
“Although this significant drug seizure has undoubtedly put a dent in organized crime, the investigation into the individuals responsible is ongoing, and we continue to work with CBSA and other partner agencies to bring this investigation to successful conclusion,” Ng said.
Ng thanked the Dubai Police Anti-Narcotics Unit, the Australia Federal Police, and the New South Wales Police Force for their “critical support and enduring collaboration,” as well as the RCMP’s international liaison officers and analysts overseas.