How smugglers miss the hidden eyes on our undefended border
Canadian and United States smugglers have long used the heavily forested Cascade Mountain range which borders Canada's Liumchen Ecological Reserve and the U.S. Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest may well wonder how many are caught?
Canada's open border areas shared with the United States have been used by smugglers since the border stations were put up. Smugglers bring in everything from alcohol,cigarettes, illegal aliens, drugs,money and weapons. What ever is in demand, smugglers will find a way to get it across the border.
It is said the olde country tales from locals that Coutts, Alberta and Sweetgrass, Montana, two extremely small border towns were formed to meet the demand for dryland farmers, but smuggling alcohol during prohibition was also favoured trade.
When overlapping alcohol prohibition in our two countries came into effect with the temperance movement in both countries, what was legal in the USA and banned in Canada prohibition, resulted in Sweetgrass, Montana supplying Albertans. During the US prohibition Coutts, Alberta was supplied their southern neighbours in Montana.
Today, Coutts, Alberta and Sweetgrass, Montana are still one horse ranch and farming towns with one exception, both towns are now known as the US/Canada Border Ports CANAMEX route serving as the highway go between from the Mexican border to Alaska.
Though our Canadian and United States border is the longest undefended border in the world, it does not mean it is not under surveillance by Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies.
Last April two well known Vancouver businessmen and their partners in crime soon found out as they were offered $10,000.00 each to carry approx: 60 kilos of marijuana, thus turning from well respected businessmen in their community into common drug smugglers.
Chris Neary and Daryl Fontana Carl Andrew Thiessen, Sinisa Gavric and Richard Bafaro devised a plan, like many before them, to traverse the Cascade mountains from Cultus Lake into the United States with their backpacks stuffed with marijuana and dreams of each making $10,000 for a nights work.
It seems Neary, Fontana and Gavric would make part of the journey over the mountain range by snowshoe, it seems perhaps ill prepared as the area is known to be inhabited by bears,wolves and cougars.
The Cascade "Smuggler's Trail" as it is known, as the smugglers soon found out was not as easy as it seemed as the snow peaked mountains left their tell tale snowshoe prints, which in turn lead to their discovery that morning by U.S. Agents who patrol the area, by foot, vehicle and air, not to mention towering surveillance cameras, satellite, ground motion sensors and heat sensors which it is said dot the area.
Though released on bail Mr. Neary and Mr. Fontana are awaiting trial in the U.S. A trial by a U.S. jury. Though both men admitted remorse to authourities, once caught, upon release both men pleaded not guilty.
Whereas Mr. Gavric a Bosnian immigrant and resident of Vancouver may not be as fortunate, we well as Mr. Thiessen and Mr. Bafaro. All three whose fate is unknown or whether they made bail, plead guilty or were later released.
What is clear is once the trial resumes this year, it will be interesting how these turn of events led these two businessmen to risk it all for a nights work.
Though BC is just one of the many provinces which border our neighbour to the south, it is folly to think that because there is no visible presence, barbed wire fences or Canada/US customs building does not mean undefended, our borders are being monitored and patrolled on both sides by various agencies, area residents and civilians.
Like Neary, Fontana, Gavric, Barfo and Thiessen and many others in the past who were caught trying to pull a fast one, crime only seems to pay in the movies.