Pubdate: Fri, 05 Aug 2005
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2005 Southam Inc.
Author: Richard Watts, CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Undercover In B.C.: Sting Operations Under Command Of Canadian Police

The U.S. navy -- in an effort to discourage drug dealers from selling to 
sailors -- routinely plays undercover cop in Victoria.

The undercover work performed by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative 
Service is under the command of Victoria police, who make any and all arrests.

But Victoria defence lawyer Robert Moore-Stewart, with a client recently 
charged after one sting, said the practice amounts to Canada getting 
co-opted into the U.S. war on drugs.

"It's really signing up for one of George Bush's wars," Mr. Moore-Stewart said.

"We are taking orders from the big guys down the street and we are supposed 
to be in charge up here not them," he said.

Mr. Moore-Stewart drew parallels with the recent arrest of Marc Emery of 
Vancouver, the self-described Prince of Pot and leader of the B.C. 
Marijuana party, arrested last week in Halifax at the behest of the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mr. Emery, 47, granted bail on Monday in Vancouver, faces extradition to 
the United State, where sentences range as high as life, for allegedly 
selling marijuana seeds.

Canadian lawyers and Canadian civil libertarians have complained Mr. 
Emery's arrest comes at time when Canada is moving to liberalize marijuana 
laws. Canadian police should not be marching to U.S. drums in their war on 
drugs, they say.

But Victoria Police Department deputy chief Bill Naughton said there is no 
comparison between Mr. Emery's arrest and the U.S. navy undercover work in 

"In terms of sovereignty, the operations are run by us and the arrests are 
done by us," Deputy Chief Naughton said.

"The operations are totally under the control of the Victoria Police 
Department," he said.

Deputy Chief Naughton said the operations typically work with the U.S. navy 
supplying undercover operatives who pose as American sailors. These 
"undercover" sailors make drug purchases and then alert Victoria police.

The idea is to make Victoria dealers wary of selling drugs to American sailors.

These operations have never been secret. Press releases have been issued 
highlighting arrests, as they were last summer when eight people were 
arrested during a visit by the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

U.S. navy officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.

But Deputy Chief Naughton said the undercover operations provide a degree 
of confidence for the American navy when it uses Victoria as a port.

They also offer Victoria police a chance to use a pool of trained 
undercover officers, a resource always in short supply and always expensive.

"We are happy to work collaboratively with them [the U.S. navy criminal 
investigators]," Deputy Chief Naughton said.

Furthermore, he said, U.S. officers go to great lengths to keep their crews 
in line while in Victoria.

Considering the number of people on some of their ships (6,000 on board an 
aircraft carrier like the John C. Stennis) Victoria's problems are negligible.

"They [American sailors] are all very good ambassadors for their country," 
Deputy Chief Naughton said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth