||July/August 2010 issue||
Along the perforated line
Sneaking a peek at some of Canada’s hottest smuggling corridors
By Steven Fick and Hugh Pouliot
|Click map to enlarge|
When it comes to the geography of smuggling,
Canada is in a league of its own, says Stephen
Schneider, associate professor of criminology at
Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and author of Iced: The Story
of Organized Crime in Canada. “There is no country in the
world that has the conditions for smuggling like we do.”
Think about it: an enormous land mass and airspace, three
ocean coastlines, a majority of the population living in close
proximity to a border with the world’s largest exporter and
consumer of contraband and a relatively small tax base with
which to police it all.
In the face of heightened border security following the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States,
traffickers of drugs, weapons, contraband and people have
proven adaptive and resilient. And they have always been so.
Since Prohibition, when the first rum-runners on the prairies
stuffed bottles into their boots, two parallel economies have
coexisted in Canada and the United States: one above-ground
and another underground.
Schneider says the same dynamics shape both economies.
Indeed, smugglers are susceptible to supply and demand fluctuations
and are most pervasive in regions where legitimate trade is already active. They often use the same passenger
aircraft, major highway border crossings and recreational
waterways or seaborne cargo containers.
When mapped out, it is easy to see how the powerful
gravitational draw of urban population density dictates where
the majority of smuggling occurs. It’s largely a matter of efficiency.
“Criminality follows the demographic,” says RCMP
Superintendent Warren Coons, director of a Canada–U.S.
Integrated Border Enforcement Team initiative. “The easiest
thing to do if you are a criminal organization is go the shortest
distance to deliver your product to market.”
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