Canadian sailors and soldiers have been busted in some serious drug cases, from marijuana grow-ops to importing steroids and trafficking cocaine, according to records obtained by CBC News.
Documents released by the Department of National Defence under the Access to Information Act include 25 "significant incident reports" in the last five years, and at least 11 of them record cases in 2014. The heavily censored reports flag serious incidents that could jeopardize the military's operations or public image.
One report reveals a Halifax case where three members were arrested after RCMP seized 170 pot plants, four handguns and three long guns, all unregistered. The report indicates the members had access to "sensitive information."
Arrest outside crack house
Another report refers to a member who was arrested outside a known crack house in Victoria while carrying the drug and associated paraphernalia.
One sailor on board HMCS Protecteur was returned home in connection with an RCMP and military probe into a marijuana grow-op. A total of 6.8 kilograms of cannabis was discovered in the garage and closets of a home, according to the report, and the house was condemned pending a municipal inspection and reissuing of an occupancy permit.
Some of the investigations involve RCMP or local police forces, while others are conducted jointly or exclusively by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, an independent military police unit with a mandate to investigate "serious and sensitive" matters related to military property and personnel in Canada and around the world.
Most include an assessment of how current or future military operations could be affected and gauge potential media interest; in some cases, the reports suggest media interest may increase if it becomes public that the individual involved is a military member.
Several refer to a "passive approach, reactive posture" in dealing with the media.
Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said the Forces have a zero-tolerance policy for prohibited drugs, and members caught using or selling drugs can face disciplinary, administrative or criminal consequences. The Canadian Forces Drug Control Program includes six types of testing to monitor and detect drug use, from blind and random sampling to mandatory tests where behaviour or incidents warrant.
'Vast majority' uphold drug rules
Lamirande stressed that the "vast majority" of Armed Forces members uphold the rules around drugs, but there are harsh consequences for those who don't.
"The Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Forces Military Police take all allegations of drug offences by CAF personnel seriously and investigate any alleged instances to determine the facts, analyze the evidence and, if warranted, lay appropriate charges," she said.
Statistics from the Forces' Provost Marshal show that between April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, there were 224 investigations into drug offences. Of those, 142 were for cannabis, 11 for cocaine and 33 for other drugs. There were also investigations into trafficking, production and distribution of drugs — 21 for cannabis, eight for cocaine and nine for other drugs.
Maj. Robert Wuskynyk, commanding officer of the Specialized Operations Section, Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, told CBC News Network's Power & Politics the key mandate is to ensure a drug-free, operationally ready force.
His unit develops relationships with command chains across the country and drives home the zero-tolerance policy in training and other workshops. Tough penalties serve as a deterrent and members can report bad behaviour through a tip line.
"The passion that members of the Canadian Armed Forces have with regards to other members of their profession wearing the same uniform and potentially being involved in this is disturbing among the majority of the members, and as a result it has ignited an emotion amongst everyone," Wuskynyk told host Chris Hall.
Some recent incidents from 2014 in the report:
- Feb. 25, 2014, in New Waterford, N.S. A member was arrested and charged with possession of an illegal substance for the purpose of trafficking. Member was not publicly identified as a military member, and the report described possible media interest "when/if identified as mil mbr."
- March 20, 2014. A member absent without leave was arrested for possession/trafficking by Ontario Provincial Police in Orillia; public affairs action is "passive approach, reactive posture. Media lines were drafted, though at the time, the media inquiries to date were 'zero.'"
- June 12, 2014, in Barrie, Ont. Two members were observed interacting with a known drug dealer and were arrested at the front gates of CFB Borden with bags of cocaine.
- June 25, 2014, Kingston, Ont. A case of possession of marijuana, sex assault and possession of marijuana for trafficking.
- July 28, 2014, RCMP and military police execute a search warrant in Denwood, Alta. (where CFB Wainright is located) and find drugs, weapons and ammunition.
- Aug. 16, 2014, in Gagetown, N.B. A case of suspected drug trafficking when a member is stopped regarding a headlamp and military police find marijuana, crystal meth and a large quantity of drugs in pill form in the vehicle.
DND Significant Incident Reports on drug seizures
DND Significant Incident Reports on drug seizures (PDF KB)
DND Significant Incident Reports on drug seizures (Text KB)