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Travellers try to sneak puppies, vitamins, whiskey across Canada-U.S. border

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The Canada Border Services Agency calls them January 2014 "highlights," but examples of people trying to pull one over on Canadian border officers in Manitoba show just how low some people will go to break the rules.

At Emerson, the province’s busiest port of entry, CBSA officers processed 57,415 travellers, 16,278 cars and 15,310 commercial trucks during the first month of the year. In total, more than 110,000 people entered Canada at one of southern Manitoba’s 16 land ports of entry in almost 41,000 cars and 21,800 commercial trucks.

CBSA officers also refused entry to 60 people for various reasons, including convicted criminals who were deemed ineligible from coming north. There were also eight seizure actions that resulted in $1,675 in penalties for travellers who either undervalued or did not declare their goods.

Here are some examples:

Emerson

On Jan. 10, a 58-year-old California man was delivering a commercial load to Manitoba. He told CBSA officers he had been arrested once for drunk driving; however, background checks revealed that he had also been charged with illegal entry in the U.S., assault, rape, alien smuggling, lewd acts with a child and other crimes. The man said he had forgotten about these offences. Officers refused him entry and returned him to the U.S.

On Jan. 14, a Manitoba man declared a French bulldog puppy at US$700. He claimed because the puppy was a runt and unregistered, the price for the dog was low. The traveller was unable to provide information on the seller. CBSA officers found a separate bill of sale in the van’s glove box for US$1,600, and the man admitted he was trying to save money. He was issued a penalty of more than $600 and continued into Canada. If he had been truthful, he would have paid approximately $75 in goods and services tax (GST).

On Jan. 24, a North Dakota man failed to declare an electric guitar and instrument accessories worth more than $1,050 combined that he was planning to leave with friends in Canada. He was issued a penalty of almost $275. Had he been truthful, we would have paid approximately $50 in GST.

Boissevain

On Jan. 23, a Manitoba woman was returning to Canada with a box of vitamins she declared at $150. She initially said she did not have an invoice, but after further questioning by CBSA officers, presented one of more than US$750. The woman was issued a penalty of almost $200 and continued into Canada. If she had been truthful about her declaration, she would have paid less than $50 in GST.

Sprague

On Jan. 31, a Minnesota man and three passengers were entering Canada. They declared six cases of beer, but CBSA officers also uncovered more than five litres of whiskey in the cargo carrier attached to their vehicle. Officers seized the undeclared alcohol and the group was allowed to continue into Canada.

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