After a seven month investigation, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is finally releasing information on the single largest cocaine bust in the Kootenays.
On July 26, Caitlin Christine Gladdish, listed as being from Kelowna, was arrested, but only recently charged, for importation of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking of over 35 kilograms of cocaine.
The stash was discovered during a routine vehicle inspection while she was attempting to get into Canada at the Waneta crossing in Trail. 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,” said CBSA area chief, Lorne Black at a press conference earlier this week. “The narcotics were concealed in an after-market compartment, a void created below the trunk area.”
But, why the long delay before making the bust public? It is all about the investigation.
“(The wait) was because of the investigation into the matter,” said CBSA spokesperson Jennifer Bourque, adding that there is still information being withheld about where the drugs were going. “As this case is before the courts, we cannot provide additional details on origin or destination.”
According to Laurie White, spokesperson for the RCMP in British Columbia, police can recommend charges, but it was up to the Crown prosecutor to formally charge Gladdish with the crime.
Black says the late public announcement doesn’t mean the border protection agency is sitting on their hands.
“Although we cannot discuss details about our investigation techniques, I can tell you that CBSA officers are vigilant when it comes to ensuring our borders are not used for illegal activities,” he told reporters.
Last year, border guards seized nearly 300 kilograms of cocaine in British Columbia alone, and superintendent Brad Britton says the government agency is doing everything they can to to keep drugs out of Canada.
“The CBSA is committed in contraband detection and interdiction and have a variety of ways to uncover concealment methods,” he said in a press release. “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.”
In 2009, the RCMP released a chart of street drug prices, showing just one kilogram of cocaine can be worth as much as $35,000.
Gladdish is scheduled to appear in court on March 5 in Rossland.