On June 23, 2016, the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) intercepted two boxes of hot peppers attempting to conceal 17 bricks of suspected cocaine (approximately 20 kilograms). The shipment was off-loaded air cargo from a flight from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Toronto Pearson International Airport. The CBSA issued a Press Release on July 7, 2016 concerning the interception.
The Press Release stated, in part:
“…During the offload, officers identified two suspicious boxes. Upon opening the boxes, officers found an abundance of hot peppers; however, underneath the peppers were 17 brick-shaped packages that were suspected to contain contraband.
All cargo on the flight was transferred to CBSA facilities for X-Ray examination while officers carried out a search of the entire aircraft. A sample of the identified packages was cut open and tested positive for suspected cocaine.
The suspected cocaine was turned over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
We can learn from this Press Release. First, the CBSA X-Rays inbound air cargo from drug-source countries. The CBSA would have easily seen the anomaly in the X-Ray – rectangle bricks of solid organic material in among hot peppers. The smugglers may have thought that the drug sniffing dogs could not smell the drugs over the power of the hot peppers. The smugglers did not consider that the CBSA uses a variety of forms of technology to find illegal contraband.
Second, the boxes were air cargo. This means that the boxes were not imported by a passenger. Either the boxes were shipped by an identified shipper or were loaded in the air cargo compartment of the airplane.
Third, all the air cargo was transferred to an X-Ray facility. It is likely that air cargo from Trinidad will receive extra scrutiny and there is always the possibility that the smugglers will try again. All importers from Trinidad may experience longer delivery times as all cargo is being scrutinized more carefully.