Pubdate: Fri, 05 Aug 2005
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2005 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Richard Watts, Victoria Times Colonist
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


U.S. Navy Undercover Agents Take Part In Sting Operations In Victoria

VICTORIA - A defence lawyer says undercover work performed in Victoria by 
the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service in an effort to discourage 
drug dealers from selling to sailors is just the latest attempt to get 
Canada involved in an American initiative.

Robert Moore-Stewart, who represents a client recently charged after one of 
these stings, 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," 
said the Victoria lawyer. "We are taking orders from the big guys down the 
street, and we are supposed to be in charge up here, not them."

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 U.S. drug 

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

Canadian lawyers and civil libertarians have complained 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 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," said Naughton. "The operations are totally under the control 
of the Victoria Police Department."

Naughton said the operations see 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 Thursday.

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