Pubdate: Tue, 15 Apr 2014
Source: Southern Gazette, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2014 Transcontinental Media
Author: Paul Herridge


While 'Bootlegging' Is Still on the Radar, Illegal Drug Trade Now 
More of a Problem

It's been about a year since a shift in the RCMP at the federal 
policing level came into effect.

Before Apr. 1, 2013, federal units were identified and assigned to 
specific areas of mandate - customs and excise, drug enforcement or 
some other specialization.

Now, however, serious organized crime, in general, is the target, 
irrespective of the commodity.

For the Burin-based unit, in addition to how the it does business, 
the shift meant a name change from Customs and Excise to Federal 
Policing Operations West.

Whereas before the section was focused on the smuggling of 
contraband, chiefly from the French islands of St. Pierre and 
Miquelon, Sergeant John Cribb, said the product, as long as it's 
illegal, no longer really factors into the equation.

"We're no longer focused on a specific commodity like tobacco or 
alcohol or drugs. We focus on wherever the problem is, whether it be 
alcohol, tobacco or drugs."

Though smuggling from St. Pierre and Miquelon is still very much on 
the unit's radar everyday, Sgt. Cribb, the unit's team leader, said 
the illegal drug trade on the Burin Peninsula has overtaken ' bootlegging'.

"Obviously, drugs are probably the main problem, and prescription 
drugs are right up there at the top, as bad as any of the other drugs 
like cocaine or marijuana, and I think everybody kind of knows that." 
Sgt. Cribb, who explained organized crime is simply defined as three 
or more individuals working together to commit illegal activity, 
described people who trade illegal drugs as "entrepreneurs" who often 
dabble in contraband alcohol or cigarettes, as well, if there's a 
buck to be made.

"We haven't forgotten anything. Everything is still covered. It's 
just that we focus now on individual groups."

As far as staffing goes, Sgt. Cribb said there are still 10 employees 
stationed at the RCMP's Burin office, the same number as before, 
including eight regular members, an engineer for the patrol vessel, 
'MV Murray', and a public servant tasked with office administration 
and other duties. However, the group is now one team, giving it more 
leverage, whereas before there were separate mandates.

"Now we come to work and we're all - most of the time - working on 
the same project."

Sgt. Cribb said the unit has laid several charges related to illegal 
drug trafficking, estimating there are currently about a dozen cases 
before the courts.

"Right now, we're fully engaged, and it's been fairly successful so far."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom