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Cablegate: Major Drug Bust Off Coast of Nova Scotia

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Halifax 172

1. (U) The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Halifax,
Nova Scotia, working with officials from Montreal seized 500
kilograms of cocaine aboard the Antiguan 15-meter sailing vessel
the "Friend Ship" on Monday, July 5, 2004. The seizure was
worth an estimated value of more than C$18 million.

2. (U) The year-long international operation dubbed "Project
Columbie" by the Montreal police force was the second major
cocaine seizure in the Nova Scotia in less than a week. When
police in Montreal learned a group of Quebec residents were
conspiring with South American cocaine suppliers to smuggle tons
of drugs from the Caribbean and South American into Canada and
England, they worked together with other Federal Canadian
government agencies and officials from Antigua and French
officials from the Caribbean Island of St. Martin. According to
local broadcast news and newspaper reports, the "Friend Ship"
left Antigua on June 23, 2004. The sailing vessel's first stop
was to be Nova Scotia where the drugs were destined for markets
in Canada. The drugs were to be off-loaded in the Village of
Moser River, about 90 kilometers east of Halifax. The drugs
were then to be hidden in a private residence in Moser River
before being distributed to other provinces within Canada. The
bust resulted in nine people being arrested from Quebec, Nova
Scotia and Antigua. The "Friend Ship" has been seized and is
currently being held under close guard at the Department of
National Defence property in Halifax Harbor.

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3. (SBU) According to a senior RCMP official, the shipment was
from Venezuela, as was the case with reftel. The official
lamented that beyond the arrests, there would be little impact
on drug flows to Canada. "To get a feeling for the size of the
traffic, you only have to know that the price for cocaine
remains unchanged following each bust." Arguing that the
traffickers target Canada because of the lower risk (the U.S.
imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, whereas Canada
only imposes 8 years), the official offered their opinion that
Canada must stiffens its drug laws if it wishes to significantly
impact the trade over the long-term.


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