WINDSOR, Ont. – The Partners in Protection (PIP) border security program is being refined to bring it in line with its US equivalent, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program.
Ron Flowers, intelligence officer with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) was on-hand at a recent Driving for Profit seminar (hosted by KRTS Transportation Specialists and NAL Insurance and sponsored by SelecTrucks) to offer some suggestions on how carriers can prepare for the impending changes.
The changes, which will align PIP with C-TPAT and provide mutual recognition on both sides of the border, will be implemented in the coming months, with applications to the revamped program accepted beginning June 30.The goal is to secure the supply chain and prevent the use of trucks in transporting drugs, weapons, tools of terrorism and dirty money.
“Big dope comes in big trucks,” Flowers told the audience, noting that drug busts at the border are on the rise. “In my 23 years (with CBSA), I’ve never seen as many cocaine seizures as we have over the last few years.”
He said recent drug busts at the border included a 230 kg shipment that was housed in the cab of a truck.
“You don’t put that in a Neon, you put it in a tractor-trailer.”
There’s an active drug trade between Canada and the US, which mostly sees marijuana and ecstasy headed south and cocaine, guns and currency returning to Canada. Usually, smugglers transport the contraband inside false walls or trailer floors, Flowers said.
Upgrades to PIP will involve equipping inspection officers with new tools to detect illegal shipments. They will also heighten the qualification requirements for participating carriers and members can be suspended from the program if their trucks are involved in seizures.
One of the goals of the new program is to minimize the driver’s involvement with the load. Flowers said the shipper should be sealing the trailer and new seal standards are on the way.
“We don’t want the drivers putting the seals on,” he said. “Ninety per cent of the time there’s drugs, it’s because the driver put them there.”
Flowers said shippers should inspect the trailer for false bottoms and walls and should use a hightech seal to secure the load. The new seal requirement is still being developed for PIP (one already exists under C-TPAT).
Under the new program, company owners and directors will be required to provide their date of birth for potential background checks.
“We want to know if the owner of ABC Company used to be the president of the Hell’s Angels,” said Flowers.
Despite the increased scrutiny PIP members will face, there are benefits, stressed Flowers. Under the new program, participating carriers will be identifiable at the border, meaning they should face less scrutiny.
“Right now, there’s no mechanism in place to tell our officers if you’re approved,” he pointed out. Members of the new PIP program will also qualify for C-TPAT more easily, and will require only one site visit for both programs once harmonization is achieved.
Also, members of PIP will be back in business sooner in the event of another terrorist attack. And members of PIP (and Customs Self Assessment) will automatically qualify for the FAST program.
Carriers interested in taking part in the revised PIP program should begin their preparations now, Flowers advised.
“Start the application process sooner than later, because come June, it’s going to be crazy,” he said.