Wednesday, 1 April 2009

What happens to seized contraband?

On Monday, The Canadian Press shed some light on the findings of a recent audit of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and specifically, what the heck happens to the guns, drugs, and other contraband that are seized.

Most seizures end up in Quebec or Ontario (Toronto, Windsor regions). Among the more ridiculous findings ...

- Meth, hash, steroids, blow, etc are all ending up in landfills because guards don't know that they are supposed to be destroyed

- In addition to drugs, guns & ammuno are sent to storage facilities/warehouses with either substandard or non-existent inventory controls

- Of 68 inspection sites, physical security was substandard for half of the interior facilities and for all of the exterior facilities. For example: 70% of warehouses were not continuously monitored (by guards, camera's or motion detectors); 15 sites, there was no control of access by non-government persons; and 23 sites had no inventory controls whatsoever.

Recognizing the potential goldmine this is for organized crime - I would love to also read a similar report of what happens to goods seized by police officers, to see if security or destruction practices are just as shotty. Both CBSA and police forces love to report on how much contraband they "remove" from the streets - but given reports like this, how certain can we be that they are actually staying off of the streets! While they often receive endless credit for removing such items from the market, rarely ever do we think about those numbers critically and ask for them to be put into a more meaningful context.

Going forward, it's time we start demanding much more transparency and accountability from our police and border services about the proportion of seized contraband that are actually being destroyed, and/or being stored in high security facilities with low risk of finding their way back to market.


Link to CBSA audits/evaluations:

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