Canadians wanting to obtain illegal electronic stun guns can find them easily online and from domestic sellers, including some in the Montreal area, according to a CBC News investigation.
Authorities believe the stun guns are coming to Canada via the United States.
Some dealers on Montreal's South Shore are selling stun guns the size of a small cellphone for $80. The devices can deliver a charge of 1.5 million volts.
Hidden-camera video recorded by Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language service, shows two people demonstrating how the stun gun works to an undercover reporter. The reporter met with the individuals recently at a parking lot in a location south of Montreal.
Under Canadian law, stun guns can only legally be imported and used by law enforcement agencies. However, the devices have been found recently in public hands.
Earlier this summer, a man in the Town of Mont-Royal had a heart attack after he was struck with a charge from a stun gun.
Then in August, Tony Mucci, a suspected member of the Montreal mafia, was arrested and charged with the possession of prohibited weapons — including a stun gun.
Seizures rise dramatically
The investigation also found online retailers eager to ship the stun guns to Canada from the United States.
Stun guns seized by Canada Customs
- 2010: 237
- 2009: 85
- 2008: 24
Several states, including Vermont, permit the sale of the devices. The weapons are also easy to find on the internet, with some websites even offering free shipping to Canadian customers.
Some U.S. retailers contacted by Radio-Canada did not hesitate to offer to ship the devices to Canada.
One of the retailers said he had successfully sent stun guns across the border in the past.
Canada Border Services Agency has seen a tenfold increase in the number of stun guns seized in the mail or at the Canada-U.S. border in the last three years.
Customs agents confiscated 24 stun guns in 2008. The number rose to 85 in 2009. So far this year, agents have seized 237.
Too few checks: union
The union representing customs agents believes more surveillance is needed to stop the stun guns from crossing the border.
Jean-Pierre Fortin, national vice-president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said more random checks, especially on packages coming through the mail, are necessary.
"I can say that presently we are vulnerable because of a lack of resources. It is evident that we could do a better job with more agents who would could open more packages and get an advantage in the investigations," said Fortin.
Taser International, an Arizona-based company, is the only company legally permitted to import electronic stun guns to Canada, under a special permit. The company can only sell the devices to law enforcement agencies.