Vancouver police used U.S. military undercover agents to gather evidence for a marijuana bust at Hemp B.C. and the Cannabis Cafe.
Court documents show that four U.S. Navy undercover agents were used in an attempt to buy marijuana and then smoke it at the internationally known emporiums in the 300-block of West Hastings.
The four agents were named in an application for a search warrant that led to a raid on the stores on April 30. The documents show the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents worked in a joint operation with Vancouver police in April.
Jim Millar, lawyer for Shelley Francis, who owns the stores, called the use of the U.S. agents “absolutely bizarre.”
“Politically, it raises real issues about having the American war on drugs coming across our border to a [hemp]store. The fact that the Vancouver police department is using U.S. military intelligence agents as undercover agents on our city streets and on our sovereign turf is a chilling prospect.”
Vancouver Const. Anne Drennan, who said earlier that Vancouver undercover officers were used, now confirms that the force used agents from the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service in the operations.
“Yes, in fact there were naval officers involved,” she said.
The use of U.S. agents “raises questions about who is really driving drug policy in Vancouver-who is really controlling drug policy in Vancouver,” said Neil Boyd, professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University.
“It gives the impression that part of the American government is interested in being involved in regulating Canadian criminal law,” Federal authorities were also surprised.
“It’s not common at all that I’m aware of to use foreign investigators,” said Bob Prior, head of the justice department’s criminal-prosecution section in Vancouver, which swore the charges-three of possession and sale of drug paraphernalia-against Francis. The trial is set for July 19.
The court documents say the navy agents were escorted to Hemp B.C., “where they shopped for merchandise and tried to buy marijuana.” They bought drugs elsewhere in Vancouver, the documents show.
George Roberts, the assistant special agent in charge of the NCIS in the Pacific northwest, said his agents work with local police when U.S. ships are in port “so that local people who might be trafficking in drugs don’t want to sell to navy people.”
“We’re not up there enforcing our laws or your laws,” he said.
More than 3,400 sailors from the USS Constellation and the USS Rainier were in Vancouver in April.
Millar, meanwhile, says he’ll file an application in B.C. Supreme Court today to quash the search warrant.