Border officers seized a “significant” amount of cocaine last month when nearly 50 kilograms were found concealed within suitcases at the Port of Halifax, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced Wednesday.
On May 2, border officers in Halifax were examining a container of commercial goods from Panama bound for Montreal when multiple “anomalies” were discovered in 10 suitcases with x-ray technology and the sealed plastic envelopes with 46 kilograms of cocaine were found within their back walls.
“Any amount is significant for a community, any doses that we keep away from the street or children is priceless for us,” said Dominic Mallette, CBSA chief of operations.
The case was handed to the RCMP, who investigated with the Montreal National Port Enforcement Team. Four men from South America were arrested on May 15 in Montreal and charges are pending, said Sgt. Keith MacKinnon of the RCMP’s serious and organized crime unit.
Although MacKinnon could not comment on whether the seizure came from a cartel, he said large quantities of drugs coming from South America are usually from organized crime groups.
MacKinnon did not give a dollar value of the seizure, but said it was “a lot of (money) worth of drugs.”
He said the purity level of the cocaine was very high, about 80 per cent, so it still had to be cut down considerably to about 25 per cent for sale.
“If you look at the quantity on the table and triple this, that is a true representation of the cocaine that would be available on the street,” MacKinnon said.
He said that the border agents seized about 1.3 million dosage units (a tenth of a gram), which works out to three or four million doses of cocaine once it’s cut down.
“A lot of cocaine comes into Canada,” MacKinnon said. “This is a small portion of that but it’s a significant portion and … we’re making a good dent in it.”
In 2013 there were 130 narcotics seizures in Atlantic Region, five of which were cocaine.