HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Teenage Drug Smugglers Will Be 'Hammered'
Pubdate: Fri, 06 Feb 2004
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Ken Henry


Canadian and American authorities sent a stiff message to Abbotsford youth 
on Wednesday in response to a growing number of teens smuggling drugs into 
the United States.

"When we get juveniles . . . we're going to hammer them to send a message 
that it's not a game," Whatcom County juvenile prosecutor Tom Verge said 
during a drug smuggling forum at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium 
Wednesday. "What drives us crazy is watching kids put themselves at risk."

In order to prevent that in the future, the forum was taped and will be 
shown to local high school students. In the fall four Abbotsford teens were 
caught smuggling drugs south of the border. Unlike Canadian law, Verge said 
those caught in the U.S. are dealt with harshly.

He often asks the judge to keep the youth in juvenile prison until their 
21st birthday.

"The smugness comes off their faces [when they hear that]," he said. "They 
don't smile anymore, they're crying."

Verge said drug dealers target vulnerable youth for a reason - they need 
somebody to do their dirty work for a small price.

"How much is enough to risk the freedoms we have?" he asked. "What's the 
price? Hopefully you don't have one."

Abbotsford police drug squad member Graham Shantz warned that once a person 
becomes a drug runner it becomes almost impossible to get out.

In 2003 there were 2,097 pounds of marijuana seized, 28 pounds of cocaine, 
21 weapons seizures, 15 arrests and seven illegal immigrants along the 
Abbotsford side of the border.
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