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Over the past year, only 25 per cent of weapons seized at the Ambassador Bridge resulted in charges.
This was revealed by an Access to Information Act request. It showed that the Canada Border Services Agency seized 38 weapons, but only 10 of these led to charges against mostly U.S. citizens.
This took place at the Ambassador Bridge from April 2016 to present.
The majority of these seizures involved Americans, however, a few of the seizures involved people from Canada, China, and Ukraine.
Next, five of the seizures involved commercial vehicles crossing the
Charges carried jail time ranging from two-35 months.
The CBSA responded to why so few people were charged out of the 38 seizures. “The CBSA must look at each event based on the unique circumstances of the specific case”, said Tim Armaly the Media Relations Spokesperson for the Southern Ontario Region of the CBSA.
Furthermore, the CBSA also provided a list of things that would warrant charges. “The CBSA must look at each event based on the unique circumstances of the specific case they are examining. The merits of each particular case are considered when determining whether or not to lay criminal charges”, Armaly said.
Armaly also brought up how the CBSA will only pursue further charges if those in question, fall under a certain set of requirements. These requirements included: a larger pattern of criminality, large public interest, previous criminal history, seizure of the firearm and
The CBSA also noted that they frequently administer civil penalties against people who have firearm related infractions. These penalties are equal to or greater than $1,000, and can be assessed and can be assessed with instead of, or in conjunction with, criminal charges.
Thomas Tass, is a security expert with the organization BORDERPOL, a non-profit that focuses on international border security, traveler and migration management. He believes that only 10 people being charged is not a major issue. “A charge under the criminal code would be subsidized with motive.”
He brought up how many of these people were not charged further after their firearm was seized because the CBSA would have had no other reason to charge them
Tass also believes the CBSA has a very strict seizure policy. “There is a very hard position taken by the CBSA that if the firearm is not declared it an automatic seizure”, he said. He also mentioned many people from the U.S. make the mistake of not looking into firearm laws, and assume they are the same as the U.S.
Interestingly, Tass points out that 38 seizures is probably on the low side for Canadian ports of entry. This is because many Americans have their weapons seized when they are driving up the west coast to get to Alaska.
All firearms that are seized by the CBSA are taken to a foundry to be destroyed.