Violent drug cartels are expected to expand their reach in Canada now that a visa requirement for Mexicans has been lifted, according to government documents obtained by Postmedia News.
The Canada Border Services Agency report says “the visa lift will make travel to Canada easier in order to establish or strengthen existing cartel smuggling chains.”
“In the next three years, Mexican drug cartels are expected to expand their presence in Canada by sending operatives and recruiting local airport or marine port workers with ties to Mexico,” says the document, obtained from a source.
Postmedia only obtained a section of the document titled: Implications for the Canada Border Services Agency and Canada.
Postmedia earlier reported on the increasing presence of Mexican cartels in Canada, as well as the fact that gangsters and organized criminals were working at the Port of Vancouver.
As of Dec. 1, Mexicans are no longer required to obtain a visa to come to Canada. The previous visa program had existed for seven years.
The CBSA document said the cartels generally don’t use tourists to smuggle drugs for them.
“While Mexican drug cartels do employ drug mules, they prefer shipments with high profitability and high likelihood of successful delivery,” the documents says. “As a result, they are expected to continue to focus their large scale smuggling efforts on commercial cargo in the marine, air and land modes given the higher likelihood of successful delivery and much higher profit margins.”
Mexican cartels have taken over legitimate businesses in Mexico in industries such as the production of goods and oil and mining, the CBSA report says.
“The flexibility and openness of free trade has proven beneficial to Mexican cartels over time,” it says. “Increasing trade ties will create additional opportunities for Mexican drug cartels to smuggle inside legitimate shipments, particularly using legitimate avenues such as the planned international trucking corridors for easier transport of higher cargo volumes between Canada and Mexico.”
And the CBSA document expresses concern about the possibility of the cartels starting to smuggle fentanyl into Canada.
“While China is the main source of fentanyl to Canada, increased regulations may result in Mexican drug cartels stepping in to fill any potential fentanyl shortage in Canada,” it says. “Mexican drug cartels play a significant role in current international fentanyl trafficking, with Mexico serving as a transshipment point for fentanyl precursors.”
CBSA media officer Line Guibert-Wolff said in an emailed statement that “Canada is working closely with Mexican partners to put in place measures to protect Canada against the risks associated with irregular migration.”
“The Government of Canada will continue to monitor and address any safety and security risks. The Public Safety portfolio, along with Canadian law enforcement partners across the country and abroad, work collaboratively and proactively to protect Canada’s safety and security. Combating serious and organized criminal activity is a priority,” Guibert-Wolff said.
Conservative Public Safety critic Tony Clement said the federal government should have paid more attention to the security risks associated with lifting the visa requirement.
“This is a concern and it could lead to Canadian lives being lost if the cartels move in,” he said. “I think this is a matter of the highest security and I think the government should reverse itself.”
Staff for B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said he would not comment on the document “as this is a federal matter.”
B.C. NDP Public Safety Critic Mike Farnworth said the information is concerning, but not surprising.
“I think this is one of the things the government needs to be frank about with Canadians and British Columbians. It is one thing to say yay, we are going to get more tourists but the reality is that we are also going to see increased opportunities for the criminal element, particularly Mexican drug cartels,” Farnworth said.
And he said “the government has got to be increasingly vigilant when it comes to potential for organized crime to infiltrate our transportation modes whether it be marine, whether it be air, or whether they be land.”
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