Saturday, August 20, 2005
The U.S. Attorney prosecuting three Canadians in the cross-border drug tunnel case will ask a Seattle judge next week to seize the B.C. property on which the tunnel was constructed.
A court order would mean the little piece of Canada on Zero Avenue would be surrendered to the U.S. government if property owner Francis Devandra Raj is convicted on trafficking charges, regardless of whether individuals or banks in Canada have an outstanding claim on the Langley land.
The tunnel case is just one of several recent cross-border investigations that have some legal experts concerned about what they see as growing encroachment of U.S. law enforcement agencies into Canada and the erosion of Canadian sovereignty.
In July, B.C. pot activist Marc Emery and two associates were arrested at the request of U.S. authorities who accuse him of selling marijuana seeds over the Internet to Americans. The arrest came despite the fact that Canadian police had ignored Emery's activities for years.
Last March, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association wrote to the RCMP Public Complaints' Commission about in incident in which an off-duty Vancouver police officer was stopped in the Fraser Valley by Texas state troopers working with the RCMP to detect motorists under the influence of marijuana.
The Vancouver constable, David Laing, also complained to the commission about the involvement of foreign police agents and received a settlement from the RCMP.
"The Texas Rangers example is one of the most brazen examples of Canadian authorities acquiescing to U.S. control on Canadian soil," Jason Gratl, president of the civil liberties association, said Friday. "It is not just about this guy's rights. It is really about our territorial integrity . . . . It is absolutely outrageous that a foreign law enforcement official would be on the front lines of policing in British Columbia."
Ian Hillman, spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, won't give the exact number of law enforcement agents from his country operating here, but notes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Department of Homeland Security are all represented.