Once I got used to the sounds at the truck stop last night I was able to have a good night. I was up pretty early and decided to just make a run for the border since there’s a major winter storm watch for southern Alberta this weekend! I had thought to overnight between the border and Lethbridge, but it made more sense to get squared away at my destination before the first flakes fell.
It was about an hour and a half to the crossing at Sweetgrass/Coutts and about a half hour to get to the head of the line to make my declaration. I was asked the usual questions about how much I had to declare, booze, narcotics, firearms, money over $10,000, etc., in addition to how long I was in the States and where I’d gone. I was told to pull over and go into the building. I’d declared well over my limit, so I figured I’d get a visit to the cashier and be on my way.
It was about a ten minute wait inside and then I got called up to the counter by a woman who greeted me warmly, asking me how my day was going. But her voice turned to ice when she saw the yellow slip I’d been giving by the lady in the booth. “We want to have a look at your vehicles. Pull a u-ey and go up to bay door number three then wait for instructions.”
Okay, I’d been expecting an inspection, but the tone of voice made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
I went back to the rig, managed to ‘pull a u-ey’ and got lined up at bay door number three where I sat for about five minutes. The doors finally opened and I was directed inside.
This customs official asked me pretty much the same questions as the lady in the booth, but always coming back to “Have you had any modifications made to these vehicles?” He kept his tone light and conversational. I waited for him to make his point so I could finally figure out what was going on!
Finally, he said, and I quote: “I’m not going to bullshit you. You’ve had a lot of activity in southern BC in the last three years. Plenty of short runs back and forth across the border with your car. Now, you’ve come across in this huge vehicle along the drug routes. Are you aware of the drug trade between California and BC?”
Drugs! I am so bloody innocent that thought never even occurred to me!
He proceeded to give me a five minute information session on the drug trade between California and BC, saying that cocaine is the worst. He showed me a vehicle they had seized recently that had been modified to hide drugs. He explained to me how drugs are brought across the border. Then he asked me if I knew how sniffer dogs work. I didn’t, so he explained it to me.
Then: “The dogs are going to be available in the next hour or so. When they go through your rig are they going to find anything?”
Of course I have no narcotics, firearms, or laundered money on board, but he said it well: “The dogs don’t speak English. If they find something, even if it turns out to be completely innocent, we go digging.”
I suddenly had this vision of my rig being torn apart.
So much for being completely honest, forthright, and up front. Canadian Customs ALWAYS assumes that you are guilty of something. They could learn something from the US officials.
He continued to ask me questions about my lifestyle, my job, my friends, my family (did I know of any of them caught for trafficking?!). Always keeping that even, almost friendly, tone, but I didn’t buy any of it.
“So,” he continued, breaking my train of thought. “Do you have cocaine on board?”
I looked him straight in the eye. “No.”
“When our dogs go through are they going to smell narcotics, firearms, or money that has been involved in the drug trade?”
Again, I looked at him squarely. “No.”
He nodded. “Okay, I’m going to open the bay door now. Pull ahead, get clear of the building, and merge into traffic. You’ll be back on the highway. Have a good day.”
My opinion of CBSA is not fit for print.Share on Facebook