Newsbrief: Canada Judge Rips DEA Law Violations 8/16/02

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The DEA may be accustomed to trampling both the letter and the spirit of the law in this country, but a Canadian court has just slapped it down for trying to pull the same sort of stunt north of the border. "The [DEA's] illegal conduct is extremely offensive because of the violation of Canadian sovereignty without explanation or apology," wrote British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon, in rejecting a DEA request to extradite a Canadian citizen to California for trial.

The case arose from an attempted 1999 reverse-sting operation run jointly by the DEA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the "Mounties") in which paid DEA informants in Los Angeles posing as Colombian cartel members attempted to induce Canadians to buy large quantities of cocaine for export to Canada. The DEA informants traveled to Canada bearing drugs under strict rules set out in a US-Canada agreement covering such cross-border shenanigans, but when the purported multi-ton deal fell through, the Mounties pulled the plug on the operation, saying they were not interested in extravagant bi-national investigations of what turned out to be single kilogram deals.

But the DEA couldn't let little obstacles like Canadian law or the sensibilities of its neighbor and ally stop it. Ignoring the RCMP, the DEA sent its informant back to BC, where he enticed BC resident Dave Licht into a coke deal in California. Based on charges developed as a result of the informant's unauthorized and illegal second trip to Canada, the US Justice Department asked for Licht's extradition.

No way, said the BC Supreme Court, raking the DEA over the coals: "The conduct of a United States civilian police agent entering Canada without the knowledge or consent of Canadian authorities, in defiance of known Canadian requirements for legal conduct, with the express purpose to entice Canadians to the United States to commit criminal acts in that jurisdiction, and acting illegally to offer to sell cocaine in Canada, is shocking to the Canadian conscience," wrote Justice Dillon.

"A United States police agent entered Canada without proper immigration status to carry out an illegal activity without the knowledge or consent of the RCMP and knowing that the RCMP had withdrawn consent to further involvement in the reverse-sting operation. This conduct is clearly contrary to Canada's national interests," she added.

Interestingly, RCMP documents delivered to the court indicated that the Mounties gave their initial permission to proceed because they feared the DEA would go ahead illegally if they refused. Welcome to our drug war, Canada.

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