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


Undercover Agents Target Drug Dealers Selling To Sailors

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 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 Moore-Stewart.

"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.

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

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 Canadian civil libertarians have complained Emery's 
arrest comes at a 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," he said.

Naughton said typically the U.S. navy supplies 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 on Thursday.

Naughton said the undercover work provides a degree of confidence for the 
American navy when it uses Victoria as a port.

The operations 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)," said Naughton.

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 such as the John C. Stennis) Victoria's problems are 

"They (American sailors) are all very good ambassadors for their country," 
said Naughton.
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