Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Xiao Xu
Page: S1

Taiwan seeks Ottawa's aid to stop drug smuggling from Canada

A Taiwanese prosecutor is calling on Ottawa to provide better
co-operation and intelligence to help stop the flow of Canadian
marijuana, after two massive busts in the Asian country earlier this

More than 70 kilograms of marijuana shipped from Vancouver were seized
in April and June by Taiwanese customs at the Port of Keelung.

Seven Taiwanese were charged in the busts. However, the official says
Taiwan has had no luck in getting information about the Canadian end
of the situation.

Xiaoya Zhong, chief prosecutor at Keelung District Prosecutors Office,
said the two agencies in Taiwan that gather and share intelligence
with other countries - Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau and
Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau - don't have a direct point
of contact with Canada for drug enforcement.

Instead, Taiwan must rely on RCMP liaison officers in Hong Kong, she

"Having a contact point would be much more convenient," said Ms.
Zhong, who added that much of the marijuana coming into Taiwan
originates in either the United States or Canada.

Ms. Zhong said without intelligence sharing, Taiwan is not able to
provide more information for Canada to investigate further on its end.

Taiwan's complaint highlights a difficult balancing act for Canada.
For decades, China has attempted to bar official contact between
Ottawa and Taipei because China considers Taiwan a renegade province.
More recently, the Trudeau government has indicated a wish for freer
trade with China.

When asked about Taiwan's complaint about lack of information sharing,
Global Affairs Canada referred questions to the RCMP. The RCMP
declined to answer directly about how it shares intelligence with
Taiwan, but said in an e-mail that it "maintains good working
relationships with all international partners, including the Taiwanese."

Charles Burton, an associate professor of political science at Brock
University and a former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing,
said Canada has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, so there is no
RCMP liaison office in Taipei.

He noted there is unofficial co-operation between Canada and Taiwan on
transnational crime through the trade offices in each country that are
staffed by diplomats.

Michael Byers, who holds the Canada Research Chair in global politics
and international law at the University of British Columbia, said most
international police co-operation takes place under the umbrella of
Interpol, the international police co-operation organization. Taiwan
was ejected from that organization in 1984 when the People's Republic
of China was admitted.

But he said the increased economic ties between Canada and Taiwan
necessarily requires police and judicial co-operation because many
kinds of criminal activities are associated with economic activity.

"If you are going to have a major economic relationship like Canada
has with Taiwan, you need to have to have a strong police and judicial
co-operation," Prof. Byers said.

Ms. Zhong said Taiwan was unable to get the information they needed
from RCMP based in Hong Kong involving the pot bust.

A news release published by Keelung District Prosecutors Office said
the 52 kilograms of marijuana seized in April alone is enough for the
personal use of 40,000 people. In Taiwan, producing, transporting and
selling marijuana can lead to a sentence of life imprisonment or at
least seven years, as well as a fine of around $420,000.

An official at the Taipei Economic and Cultural office in Vancouver
warns all travellers to Taiwan that carrying or having marijuana is
banned in Taiwan; it breaks the criminal code.

The RCMP also declined comment on the Taiwan smuggling cases and
whether there are Canadian suspects. The Canada Border Services Agency
referred questions to the RCMP.

Kristine Wu, a spokeswoman for CBSA, declined to respond to Taiwan's
complaint about lack of co-ordination.

She said in a statement that the agency works with domestic and
international law-enforcement partners to ensure that goods subject to
export controls are not exported from Canada into countries where they
are banned.

The statement said risk assessments of export shipments are completed
by the regional officers, as well as CBSA intelligence personnel.
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