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Guilty pleas in border firearms cases
A trio of U.S. residents were hit with fines in Surrey Provincial Court last month, after pleading guilty to firearms-related charges in connection with three separate incidents at the two South Surrey borders crossing.
Canada Border Services Agency announced the pleas last week.
The first of the cases began on May 21, when a Pennsylvania resident arrived at the Pacific Highway commercial port.
Officials say the traveller did not declare any weapons or firearms, however, during a search of his vehicle, border officers located a loaded .38-calibre handgun in a cabinet behind the driver's seat.
Robert Scott Keller pleaded guilty on Aug. 13 to making false statements, and was fined $2,500.
That same day, an Alabama man was fined a total of $5,000, after pleading guilty to making false statements and unauthorized possession of a firearm in connection with an Aug. 12 incident at the Douglas border.
CBSA officials say Edward Laverne Blair told border officers that he also had no firearms to declare. During a secondary examination, a loaded .40-calibre pistol was located in a duffle bag on Blair's motorcycle. Blair was fined $2,500 for each offence.
In a separate case at the Douglas port on Aug. 12, border services officers arrested a Texas resident for smuggling firearms into Canada.
The man was en route to Alaska and also told officers he did not have any firearms. During a search of his travel trailer, however, officers found a plastic rifle case containing an undeclared AR15 assault rifle, two empty over-capacity magazines for the rifle, and 40 rounds of ammunition. Further searches of the vehicle uncovered a .45-calibre firearm, a duty belt with an empty holster, handcuffs and two over-capacity magazines containing .45 ammunition.
Aug. 14, Vaughn Michael Wells pleaded guilty to making false statements and unauthorized possession of firearms. He was fined $4,000 on each count for a total of $8,000.
A fourth U.S. resident, Ronald Dean Watkins of California, was sentenced to three days in jail for failing to declare an unloaded .22-calibre pistol and a magazine containing eight rounds on arrival in Victoria on Aug. 13.
“Firearms interceptions are especially significant because they keep harmful weapons out of our country,” said Harald Wuigk, assistant director of CBSA’s Pacific region Criminal Investigations Section. “Canadian law is clear regarding firearms. Those who do not abide by our firearms laws will face the consequences.”