Gavin Magrath, Magrath’s International Legal Counsel, Toronto, Canada

An investigation by the Vancouver Sun[1] has uncovered both government and police documents evidencing an infiltration of Vancouver’s port facilities by biker gangs for the purposes of drug trafficking.

Among the documents uncovered is a research brief for the Minister of Public Safety [2], which states that Canada’s three largest commercial marine ports (at Montreal, Vancouver, and Halifax) are vulnerable to both in bound and outbound smuggling; while the brief encourages intelligence gathering and inter-agency co-operation, inter alia, it also notes that the responsible organizations lack sufficient resources relative to the scope of the problem.

The brief highlights the importation of input ingredients for synthetic drugs, the export of drugs, and the import of counterfeit goods as the chief crimes being perpetrated.

The Sun’s report also provides details on more than two dozen individuals with ties to organized crime working at the ports as longshoreman, including several members of the Hell’s Angels biker gang. In the words of Ontario Provincial Police Det.-Staff. Sgt. Len Isnor, the country’s top law enforcement expert on the Hells Angels, “So as far as the ports are concerned, it’s the whole success of the Hells Angels.”

The report serves to highlight that, while great strides have been taking in airline and airport security over the past decade, similar steps to ensure the security of our marine ports have badly lagged; both government and industry have a role to play in addressing these failures and oversights.