Customs StopOn May 31, 2016, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) issued a press release that it had intercepted an illegal export of gun parts at Toronto Pearson International Airport.  The gun parts were destined for Iraq.  Exports of certain arms and related material to Iraq are prohibited under the United Nations Act and the United Nations Iraq Regulations. Canada’s domestic export restrictions laws are based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 661, 1483, 1511, 1518, and 1546.

The facts of the interception are unusual. On February 1, 2016, CBSA officers working at the Rainbow Bridge identified a male traveler, who was the subject of an intelligence lookout, and referred him for secondary examination. During the secondary interview, the CBSA officers discovered an airline waybill relating to an export of auto parts to Iraq. After investigating further, the CBSA officers found documentation and photos causing them to suspect gun parts were involved in the export shipment. The CBSA officers at the Rainbow Bridge alerted their CBSA counterparts at Toronto Pearson international Airport Air Cargo, who retrieved and detained the shipment from a cargo services warehouse.  Once opened, the cargo shipment was found to contain numerous handgun and rifle parts, police badges, badge holders/wallets, and tactical jackets destined for Iraq.  It should be expected that the exporter will be prosecuted under the United Nations Act and could face fines and/or imprisonment.

The following photo was released by the CBSA.

Firearm parts and badges

While this particular shipment was intercepted as a result of particular information, the CBSA routinely x-rays packages to be exported.  Where the destination is a country that is the subject of trade restrictions, the level of scrutiny of outgoing packages is higher.  The CBSA also routinely increases the level of scrutiny for packages destined to common middle countries.

This case is a reminder that Canada has trade restrictions against many countries. Exporters should be aware of Canada’s export controls and economic sanctions/trade restrictions laws.  This interception may cause the CBSA to devote more resources to export inspections as it could have made it through if the individual had not been detained at Rainbow Bridge (if he had not crossed the border, the CBSA would not have sent him for a secondary inspection and would not have located the documentation).

If you would like to ensure compliance with Canada’s trade restrictions. Please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at