British Columbia

RCMP seize second drug-smuggling helicopter

For the second time this year, RCMP in the southern Interior have seized a helicopter they say was used to smuggle cocaine over the U.S. border.

For the second time this year, RCMP in the southern Interior have seized a helicopter they say was used to smuggle drugs between the U.S. and Canada.

RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau says officers arrested the 33-year-old owner for allegedly using the Bell 206 helicopter to transport cocaine from the United States to Lumby, B.C.

"The fact that a criminal organization would purchase such a valuable vehicle for $425,000 just to move illicit drugs across the border underscores the actual value of the illicit drug movement across our shared border," said Linteau.

Members of the Nelson RCMP Border Integrity Program monitored the helicopter's movements for two years before arresting the owner and seizing the chopper in May.

RCMP say they have cut off an airborne pipeline for drugs, but charges are unlikely.

"Criminal charges are not being pursued in this due to a lack of evidence. However the helicopter is being seized under the Civil Forfeiture Act," said Linteau.

Sources close to the investigation say they weren't able to catch the pilot taking drugs across the border.

The last chopper seized in southeastern B.C. was auctioned off and chopped up for parts.

Corrections

  • In a previous version of this story, police mistakenly said that the helicopter was allegedly used to transport cocaine from B.C. to the U.S. Police now say the cocaine was allegedly transported from the U.S. into B.C. in the helicopter.
    Oct 06, 2011 9:00 AM PT

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