HALIFAX—Two men are facing drug charges after more than 250 kilograms of cocaine was found hidden on a small sailboat arriving in Nova Scotia from the Caribbean.
The Canada Border Services Agency says its officers boarded the vessel in Hubbards, N.S., at East River Marine on Sunday night.
“We were aware of it coming,” said Dominic Mallette, the agency’s acting director for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mallette said the Canadian-registered, 29-foot boat — called Quesera — arrived from the small Caribbean island of Saint Martin.
Inside the vessel’s forward sleeping quarters, officers found several bricks of suspected cocaine hidden inside a sealed bed frame, and the RCMP were called in, he said.
“Our officers are trained to look in those areas,” Mallette said in an interview. “If the vessel is 20 years old, and the screws are brand new, that means somebody’s been there recently.”
The owner of the boat, 68-year-old Jacques John Grenier of Hubbards, N.S., was arrested at the scene at 11:30 p.m.
Four hours later, 59-year-old Luc Chevrefils of Montreal was arrested at a hotel in the Halifax area.
Both face charges of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and conspiracy to import cocaine. Grenier faces an additional charge of importing cocaine.
Asked if the border agency had received a tip about the accused smugglers, Mallette declined to be specific.
“I can tell you that we had an awareness and we were ready,” he said. “Anything beyond that would jeopardize our internal work.”
In the past four years, the CBSA in Atlantic Canada has recorded between 130 and 159 drug seizures every year, many of them at ports handling large shipping containers.
Finding such a large stash in a small boat is unusual, Mallette said.
“In terms of small vessels . . . something of this magnitude is extremely rare,” he said. “It’s very difficult to be aware and monitor the sea.”
The RCMP said it was the second significant suspected drug seizure in Nova Scotia this year. About 200 kilograms of hashish was found hidden in a chocolate bar shipment at the Port of Halifax in May.
“By sharing intelligence and co-ordinating enforcement activities, (the RCMP and CBSA) are targeting criminal groups and networks that are using increasingly sophisticated methods to attempt to smuggle drugs into our country,” RCMP Supt. Alfredo Bangloy said in a statement.
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Source : The Star