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Okanagan border agents sniff out U.S. handguns

In the last five years 214 guns have been confiscated at the Canadian side of the Osoyoos border.

During a media information session Wednesday, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) staff explained that most personal firearms seized come from U.S. residents crossing the border who are unaware of Canadian laws.

Eron Labadie, superintendent of the Canadian Border Services Agency, stands with some of the guns confiscated at the Osoyoos port over recent years. (Tara Bowie/Western News)

“People don’t understand the laws. A lot of time people who are maybe used to carrying a firearm in their vehicles and forget they’re there that is usually the situation you see here,” Eron Labadie, superintendent for the CBSA at Osoyoos crossing said.

The majority of confiscated weapons are handguns, but there has been rifles, tasers and blowguns.

Travellers who do not declare firearms even if they are prohibited can face arrest, seizure, monetary penalties/and or criminal prosecution.

Related: Osoyoos border gun smuggler sentenced

A four-legged hardworking CBSA worker often helps locate guns and drugs.

Roca, a chocolate lab, is trained to sniff out nine odours — eight illegal drug smells and firearms. She’s trained as a passive indication dog, which means she sits when she finds something on her smell list.

“She’s trained on nine odours, eight narcotic odours and firearms, any part of a gun that’s been fired or cleaned or used,” Stephen Robinson, detector/handler for the CBSA said. “Guns are a bit of a fickle thing to train with. (We’re) always changing the scent to get it down to the base odour. We’ll go and fire a gun, hide the gun after it’s fired. We’ll clean the gun and hide it after it’s cleaned. We’ll let the gun sit for a month airing out and hide it again. We use a lot of a guns we seize so the dog gets used to the base odour.”

Roca spends the days she’s working living at the border crossing she works at and then her off days with Robinson where she gets some relaxation time walking and playing with a ball at the beach.

Celia Christian, a border officer at the Osoyoos border, was working the day Alex Louie, who goes by Senk’lip, attempted to take two handguns across the border, wiring them to the undercarriage of his vehicle.

“It appears that the firearms were being brought in to turn around and sell as crimes guns,” she said.

Louie was found guilty and sentenced to three years in jail, given a lifetime firearms ban and a 10 year ban for weapons.

Between 2013 to 2017 there have been 958 guns seized at CBSA ports of entry in the Pacific Region.

Information about regulations surrounding importing or exporting firearms can be found here.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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Tara Bowie

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