Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2003
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Duncan News Leader
Author: Andrea Radke


The open sea is an idyllic environment for sneaking marijuana and cocaine 
through Canadian borders, a trend that police hope to eliminate with the 
help of local area residents.

Smugglers are creative and imaginative, keeping police busy with suspicious 
behavior in an area that is too large to patrol, said Auxiliary Const. 
Carol Rolls, of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

"Given the expanse of the waters, there is just no way without the help of 
area residents that we can do an adequate watch of the coast," Rolls said.

Creating a hostile environment for the smugglers is the number one priority 
of the Coastal Drug Watch of the RCMP. Each year, more than 10 per cent of 
the cocaine and 50 per cent of the marijuana imported into Canada arrives 
via the ocean.

It is impossible to supply the manpower that would essentially end the war 
against drug importation but with the help of area residents, an effective 
neighborhood watch is a great first step.

"By instructing people who are familiar with the area with what to watch 
for, we are more able to investigate these matters. So far it's been very 
successful, although it's hard to qualify the success in dollars or 
pounds," said Anne Clarke, B.C. coordinator of the Coastal Watch program.

Area residents are essentially the eyes and ears for the police and their 
cooperation and involvement is invaluable, Clarke added. The RCMP kicked 
the coastal program into high gear at the Wooden Boat Festival at the Maple 
Bay Marina. RCMP has created a straightforward set of suspicious behavior 
to keep an eye out for.

Boaters and residents are instructed to look out for boats, which operate 
outside normal fishing/shipping lanes or outside normal fishing times.

"These guys are really good at disguising themselves as normal vessels but 
there is usually an obvious difference if you know what you are looking 
for," Rolls said.

Civilians are also instructed to look for boats that operate at night 
without lights, aren't carrying the right equipment for the work they are 
doing or are operating in isolated areas.

Police hope that residents will aid in investigations by taking notes and 
reporting it immediately to local police or to the B.C. Coastal Watch 
hotline at 1-888-855-6655.

"It leads to an investigation and that is incredibly vital to stopping this 
infiltration of drugs into our country," Clarke said.
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