Drug detection training lacking at border

WINDSOR, Ont. — A trucker was convicted recently for smuggling cocaine across the border, despite some confusion in the way Canada Border Services Agency officers kept track of the seized items.

According to a local news story, while convicting Balwinder Singh Sangha, 40, of importing cocaine and possessing the drug for the purpose of trafficking, Justice Richard Gates says border guards in Windsor lack the experience and training to keep drugs out of the country.

"It is a far cry from rummaging around the trunk of a passenger car searching for an illicit bottle of liquor or carton of cigarettes to the forensic examination of a large tractor-trailer, such as the one at hand, in the search for drugs," said Justice Richard Gates.

"While I do not in any way doubt the sincerity and dedication of the border service personnel, from a criminal investigative perspective, their experience and training are lacking."

Sangha was caught by border guards trying to smuggle 22.5 kilograms of cocaine across the Ambassador Bridge in 2007. The officers did not keep track of who seized what items from the truck and who subsequently handled them, and later had difficulty identifying items at trial.

While questioning the training of the officers, the judge did commend the border guards for their devotion to the job. "But what the community at large would greatly benefit from is an enhancement of their training."

A CBSA spokesman told the Windsor Star that since January 2007, border officials in Windsor and Sarnia have intercepted 1.3 tonnes of cocaine.

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