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Carson border guards' suspicions pay off in drug smuggling bust

Suspected cocaine seized at Carson border crossing; Photo, submitted
A Washington State couple is facing severe criminal consequences after failing to fool law enforcement at the Carson Port of Entry into Grand Forks, BC. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and RCMP announced today the seizure of over 80 kg of suspected cocaine at the port on Dec. 16, 2010. The cocaine is worth an estimated $3.5 million.
It was just before 10:00 a.m. on Dec.16, 2010, that 49-year-old Scott Fleming Powers and 55-year-old Diane Marie Green Powers arrived to cross into Canada for a day of shopping. During the initial questioning, the border services officer noted an excessive amount of luggage in the minivan for a simple day trip. This, and other inconsistencies noted in their initial interview, led the border services officer to refer the couple for a more in-depth examination.
“The officers did a fantastic job. We’re talking about highly trained individuals that have a job to do and come to work on a daily basis ready to go,” said Eron Labadie, Superintendent, Carson Port of Entry. “The impressive part is that they didn’t stop (at an initial search), they continued to search deeper and as they started to look through the vehicle they continued to find anomalies.”
During the examination of the minivan, the officers found that the seats were not the manufactured stow-away seats for this type of minivan. The officers also detected a strong scent of marijuana inside the vehicle and found trace amounts inside. After removing the seats, they discovered screws had been tampered with and found two compartments filled with bricks of suspected cocaine.
A total of 61 packets of suspected cocaine were found in the rear seating compartment, and an additional 22 packets were found in the compartment behind the driver and passenger seats.
The CBSA arrested the Washington State couple for attempting to import a controlled substance, and the Grand Forks RCMP and the Southeast District Federal Drug Section were called in to lead the criminal investigation.
“It was a complete team effort,” said Labadie. “All the officers involved did a fantastic job and everybody had a part to play and everybody did it to the best of their ability.”
The one-kilogram packages are consistent with drug trafficking said the RCMP - that’s about 83,000 doses of cocaine that will never make it to the streets. Even small ports can be the target of smugglers, explained Labadie.
“This could happen (at any border crossing.) It’s why we’re there and doing the job that we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t think you can simply say that just because it’s a quiet border you won’t see these things happening. It’s why we’re trained on a consistent basis across Canada.”
The Federal Drug Enforcement Branch is actively investigating all specific ties to organized criminal groups. As with all border seizures, the RCMP is also working with international partners like the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.
Diane and Scott Powers were in court on Dec. 17, 2010, and were detained until trial. Their next court appearance is on Jan. 13. They each face one count of Importation of a Controlled Substance, Section 6(1) CDSA, and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking s. 5(2) CDSA.
“The officers and I who work at the Port of Carson also live in the community,” said Labadie, “We have a strong sense of pride about what happens in that community. We’re all very proud of the fact that we stopped 83 kilos of cocaine from entering our streets.”