A woman is facing almost seven years in jail after attempting to smuggle 35 kilograms of cocaine over the Waneta border crossing in Trail.
Caitlin Christine Gladdish, 27, of Kelowna, was handed the prison sentence Tuesday in Kelowna Provincial Court after a lengthy investigation by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Judge James Threlfall said a longer term would have been appropriate, but noted Gladdish plead guilty, showed genuine remorse, had no previous criminal record and is an excellent prospect for rehabilitation.
But Threlfall also said Gladdish knew her car had been modified with a secret compartment and had already used the vehicle to cross the U.S. border five times.
Earlier this year the CBSA released information on the July 2014 offence, which it deemed the single largest cocaine bust in the Kootenays
Gladdish was charged with importation of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking seven months after the cocaine was discovered during a routine vehicle inspection at the Waneta border.
She was not previously known to officers.
“During the primary inspection, the officer conducted routine checks in the vehicle and noticed irregularities when inspecting the traveller’s trunk,” CBSA area chief, Lorne Black, said in February.
“The narcotics were concealed in an after-market compartment, a void created below the trunk area.”
Street value of the drugs is estimated to be about $2 million.
Last year, border guards seized nearly 300 kilograms of cocaine in British Columbia alone, according to CBSA superintendent Brad Britton.
“The CBSA is committed in contraband detection and interdiction and have a variety of ways to uncover concealment methods,” he said following Gladdish’s arrest.
“Although the criminal element is always coming up with new concealment methods, the CBSA is always looking at ways to improve its efforts when it comes to enhancing our partnerships, intelligence gathering, training, detection tools and equipment.”
-with files from Canadian Press