Pubdate: Mon, 19 Aug 2013
Source: Gulf News, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2013 Transcontinental Media Network
Author: Barbara Dean-Simmons


Earlier this month, the federal government indicated it would be 
stepping up security on the VIA rail system, in the wake of bomb plot 
earlier this year.

Now, anyone who wants to travel on VIA Rail, will be subject to 
security checks equivalent to the standard at any major airport in Canada.

Since we're on the subject of national security, it's time for the 
Canadian government to also review other transportation systems where 
security is lacking, or non-existent; such as the Marine Atlantic ferries.

Throughout the year, thousands of people, vehicles and baggage make 
the journey from Newfoundland to Canada, and vice versa, via the Gulf 
crossing from Port aux Basques to North Sydney.

While the federal government may think it's just an inter-provincial 
transportation route, it is in fact, a little more than that, as 
history has shown.

It has been, in fact, and quite likely could still be, the entry 
point to Canada for drug smugglers.

Some people may remember the events of 1987. For those who may not, 
here's the refresh.

This province garnered national headlines that year after RCMP 
arrested several people and seized tons of hashish in this province. 
The drugs had been smuggled from Asia and Europe and offloaded into 
abandoned communities in Trinity Bay. From there it was shipped by 
smaller boats to shore, loaded onto transport trucks and driven to 
the ferry terminals to get to mainland Canada and distribution 
throughout Canada and the US.

Montreal crime boss Vitto Rizzuto and several others were arrested. 
On an autumn day in 1987 the RCMP made their move - after several 
months of undercover work -seizing $225 million (street value) worth 
of hashish.

Most of it was found stored in Ireland's Eye, an abandoned community 
just a short boat ride from Trinity.

They also intercepted a transport truck near Gander that same day, 
loaded with hashish, bound for the ferry in Port aux Basques.

While it might sound daring to try to drive a tractor trailer loaded 
with drugs onto a federally-operated ferry, it wasn't.

There were not - and still aren't - any customs-like spot checks in 
place for vehicles and people boarding the ferries in Port aux 
Basques or Argentia. The driver of a vehicle is only required to show 
ID. Walk-on passengers aren't required to show ID and there are only 
very random and sporadic spot-checks of baggage carried by walk-on passengers.

Passenger vehicles are hardly ever checked for contents. Transport 
trucks are hardly ever held up for a thorough inspection
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom