HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html U.S. Agents Run Roughshod Over Our Laws
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Aug 2002
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Paul Willcocks
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


If U.S. police are prepared to walk all over Canadian law, why is the 
federal government willing to allow more of them into the country?

The charges of abuse don't come from some alarmist.  They are part of B.C. 
Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon's ruling on a U.S. bid to extradite 
Brent (Dave) Licht to California to face cocaine charges.

She said no, in part because an illegal operation by the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Agency in White Rock was a shocking abuse of Canadian law. "The 
illegal conduct is extremely offensive because of the violation of Canadian 
sovereignty without explanation or apology," she wrote.

The DEA took aim at would-be Canadian cocaine importers in 1999, setting a 
reverse sting in Los Angeles DEA civilian agents - paid informers  - posed 
as Colombian dealers with lots of cocaine to sell. The bait soon attracted 
three men who said they wanted to buy $1 million worth of coke a month for 
delivery to Vancouver.  But first the sellers would have to meet the "main 
guy" in Canada, the trio said.

The rules for a DEA operation in Canada are clear.  A U.S. - Canada 
agreement requires DEA agents to get RCMP consent before launching an 
investigation here.  They also needed a special permit from the immigration 
minister because the undercover agent had a criminal record.

And they also needed approval from the RCMP's top drug officer to pretend 
they had drugs for sale.  The tactic is illegal in Canada except under 
tight controls, because of the risk of police creating a crime where one 
would not have otherwise occurred.

The Mounties said yes.  The phoney dealer and his DEA handler came up, and 
with their RCMP shadows - part of the agreement - they tried to meet the 
"main guy."  Instead they met two other men who grumbled about delays and 
only wanted to buy one kilogram at a time.

It was a flop.  When the immigration permit expired the Mounties put the 
Americans on a plane.  The DEA asked to continue the operation and the RCMP 
said no.  A major investigation aimed at small dealers wasn't a priority.

The DEA seemed to accept the ruling.  But a month later one of the 
undercover agents entered Canada and met with several people about selling 
them cocaine - including Mr. Licht, according to the court.

The agent entered the country illegally, didn't get RCMP consent and broke 
Canadian law by offering drugs for sale.  He knew what the legal 
requirements were and simply ignored them, Justice Dillon found.

After the meet Mr. Licht travelled to California and arranged to pay 
$450,000 cash and 115 pounds of marijuana for 50 kilograms of cocaine. But 
when the DEA swooped in on the buyu later in the day, Mr. Licht wasn't 
there.  So the U.S. set out to extradite him on conspiracy charges.

Forget it, said Justice Dillon, in a scathing rebuke.  The Americans 
knowingly broke Canadian law and violated international agreements. They 
conducted an illegal reverse sting operation aimed at Mr. Licht even though 
they had never heard he was drug dealer.  They tried to conceal the 
information from him and the court.  The American's behaviour met the test 
for serious abuse, ruled Justice Dillon, "an act so wrong that it violates 
the conscience of the community."

This was no isolated incident.  Documents showed the RCMP felt pressured to 
approve the first operation because it feared that if it didn't say yes 
quickly, the DEA would go ahead illegally.

And only a month ago the B.C. Appeal Court found misconduct by Internal 
Revenue Service agents working in Canada on an American tax fraud 
investigation, and denied them evidence seized in a Vancouver search.

Two cases in one month, and in each no explanation from the U.S. - or Canada.

It's hard to tell if anyone is taking this seriously.  The DEA referred 
calls to the American embassy: the embassy wanted more time to investigate. 
Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon was unavailable; justice staff had 
no answers.

And yet more U.S. police and security forces are being welcomed into 
Canada, on top of the alphabet soup of agents already here.

Every one of those officers is working under strict Canadian controls, of 
course.  But that's no comfort when U.S. government agents have 
demonstrated not only a willingness to ignore our laws, but a reluctance to 
acknowledge that those laws apply to them.
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