Truckers get careless with Canadian gun laws
Two separate arrests in May involved truck drivers entering Canada with weapons they failed to declare to border guards.
Curtis Roberson, 57, who was driving a school bus into the country on May 6, spun quite a story for Canada Border Services Agency officers.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the Georgia trucker said he planned to deliver the bus in Canada, then fly home May 7.
As it was later explained to Provincial court Judge Fred Sandhu, Roberson told officers “no” when they asked if he was carrying guns. In addition, Roberson claimed to have crossed the border a few weeks earlier, but couldn’t tell them where.
Prompted by “indicators of deception”, CBSA officers ran a background check and found an unproven concealed-weapons charge on Roberson from 1992. They followed through with an “officer-safety” search and further questioning.
Roberson “claimed at this point that he owned a .22-calibre pistol, which is at home,” according to Crown attorney Laura Perron.
His story began to fall apart as a revolver cylinder, loaded with five rounds, fell out of a pillow officers removed from Roberson’s suitcase. Perron said the officers then found the frame of a “mini-revolver.”
At this point, Roberson said he’d purchased the gun legally in Florida which Perron confirmed. He said he’d been advised that the weapon would not be considered a gun in Canada, had it entered the country in two pieces.
According to Perron, Roberson “blatantly made a false report in saying he didn’t have” the gun, even though he legally owned it. Of his plans to return home the next day, she said “it strikes me as odd that he’d be taking this back on an airplane.”
Roberson had urged Sandhu to set him free with a sentence of time served, but pleaded guilty after being charged under Canada’s Customs Act. He admitted to having made a false statement to CBSA officers, and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
It was Roberson’s good fortune that he didn’t encounter the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Had they been involved, Roberson could have faced a mandatory three-year prison sentence under Criminal Code weapons charges.
Another driver managed to rack up fourteen charges in a single crossing.
On May 2, Stuart Barry Persky of Niles, Illinois attempted to drive a commercial transport truck into Canada at the Lansdowne port of entry. According to a CBSA news release, the 49-year-old was stopped by agents at Lansdowne, on the border between Ontario and New York State.
When Persky failed to declare any firearms or weapons, he was referred to a secondary examination. CBSA officers searched the cab and found two loaded 45-calibre handguns, along with multiple ammunition magazines and rounds of ammunition. In addition to the firearms, agents found a machete, a boot knife, a box cutter, and a can of pepper spray.
Persky was arrested on three counts of smuggling, one count of making false statements, and three counts for failing to report items under the Customs Act. Additional charges include two counts of unlawful possession of a loaded and prohibited firearm, two counts of careless transportation of a firearm, and three counts of unauthorized import of a prohibited weapon under the Criminal Code.
On May 12, Persky appeared in Ontario’s Brockville Court and was released on $10,000 bail, according to CBSA spokeswoman Caroline Desjarlais. He was scheduled to return to court in June, where his charges could result in cash fines or prison sentences.
While Desjarlais offered no comment on why Persky allegedly brought the weapons into Canada, she emphasized that he failed to declare the weapons in the first place.
“Canadian firearms laws are clear. All persons, including Canadians, must declare all firearms and weapons in their possession when they enter Canada,” she said in an e-mailed statement.
CBSA district director Lance Markell said that the agency takes border responsibilities seriously, especially related to firearms and weapons.
Travelers can acquaint themselves with Canadian gun laws by visiting http://firearmslaw.ca/gun-law-resources/information-for-americans/.