Pubdate: Thu, 24 Mar 2005
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Province
Author: Ian Austin, with a file by Salim Jiwa
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Cops Want To Send Message That Drug Traffickers Don't Own City Streets

Vancouver police want judges to get tougher on Central Americans who come 
to Canada to make their fortunes selling crack cocaine.

Insp. Bob Rolls, announcing charges against 44 street-level crack-cocaine 
dealers, said stiffer sentences are needed to stop the steady flood of 
would-be drug traffickers lured by the easy money and low risk of Vancouver 

"We want to send the message that they don't own the streets," Rolls said 

The inspector called for three things for non-Canadian dealers:

- - Minimum six-month jail terms;

- - Keeping arrested suspects in custody, rather than letting them back on 
the streets to deal again;

- - Expedited deportation.

Rolls said the dealers, drawn to easy cash in Canada, aren't put off by 
having to spend three months in jail in order to make their fortunes.

"That doesn't provide a sufficient deterrent," he said. "There's a big 
attraction to coming to Canada -- they can make $200 a day, plus $500 a 
month on welfare."

The latest crackdown, dubbed Project Turrets, busted 44 drug dealers, 40 
per cent of whom were refugee claimants, largely from Central America. Some 
had been in Canada for only two weeks. "These people need to be sent back 
where they came from," said Rolls.

Immigration lawyer Phil Rankin said Central Americans, often entering 
Canada from the U.S., have few options to compare to the easy money from 
drug dealing in Vancouver.

"They're not allowed to work, and there are no services for these people," 
said Rankin. "It sounds great to keep these people in custody, but it would 
cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, to detain them all."

Like Rolls, Rankin said deportation should be a much quicker process: "It 
would be a deterrent if they could get it over with in six or seven weeks, 
not let it drag on for seven or eight months."

Rankin said part of the attraction is simply that Honduras is a poor, 
corrupt nation, and money made quickly in Canada can make the dealers rich 
back home.

Conservative MP Randy White said Canadian law currently provides for the 
deportation of non-citizens convicted of serious offences only.

Under this criteria, White said, drug offenders do not seem to qualify for 

But White said that Canada should develop some mechanism of deporting 
individuals convicted of repeated drug offences.

White said he believes the solution lies in harsher penalties for drug 
dealing, not deportation. He said often those caught dealing drugs first 
travelled to the U.S., but chose to come north to Canada because of more 
lenient drug laws.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom