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Cameras looking both ways as surveillance of border increases



The best B.C. bud is not sold on the Vancouver streets.

"The stuff on the B.C. streets is B grade pot," said Corporal Scott Rintoul, spokesperson with the RCMP drug enforcement branch in Vancouver.

"It could not be sold in the States."

It's the high quality stuff that is smuggled across the border to American markets, where buyers like to purchase high-grade product and dealers can make big American bucks.

And in return for B.C. pot, a variety of other narcotics like cocaine, meth amphetamines and heroin head back north.

This makes Canada's border on the west coast historically one of the most highly drug trafficked areas in the country.

And this is one of the reasons why the U.S. Border Patrol has installed 64 remote-controlled, high-tech cameras along a 70-kilometre stretch from Abbotsford to Surrey.

The $50-million (U.S.) camera system is fiber optic and has both daytime and nighttime infrared cameras.

They can pan the landscape or focus in on one particular area to enhance an image of a person or a car.

"Our challenge is to realize that organized crime groups utilize the border as a way to get stuff into both countries," said John Bates, U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief.

Because there is two-way traffic, the U.S and Canadian authorities have to work together closely, especially as organized crime units search for increasingly innovative ways to get past a more secure border.

As points of entry become more difficult for smugglers, they look for areas in between border checks to move stuff through illegally.

Bates shares some recent statistics to prove his point.

In January, U.S Border Patrol seized 78 pounds of cocaine that was left in a ditch that separates the two countries. He said they believe the cocaine was heading to a market on the northern side.

About five months ago border patrol had the largest seizure of ecstasy ever found on the northern border.

And the marijuana trading has really escalated in the past five years, he said.

"The demand is huge right now. (Marijuana is) worth its weight in gold," agreed Rintoul.

A lot of the marijuana, which comes into the States away from the border crossings, is carried over in backpacks.

In November, border patrol in the area seized 344 pounds of pot heading south and four days later seized another 311 pounds.

"Canadian marijuana is considered to be great high quality," said Bates.

"It has the highest THC content."

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