US tourists facing three years in a clink
Bringing guns into Canada lands US tourists in jail
Two American tourists spent five days in jail, put up $50,000 each in bail and are facing three years behind bars after border guards seized a small arsenal of firearms at the U.S.-Canada border crossing last week.
Danny Cross, brother-in-law Hugh Barr and their wives were on their way to Alaska to celebrate Cross's wedding anniversary when they were stopped at the Aldergrove-Huntington border crossing, 65 kilometres southeast of Vancouver, on July 11.
Cross is 64 and from Texas; Barr is 70 and from California. The Canada Border Service Agency said that when officers searched their 2008 Winnebago after they said they had nothing to declare, the officers found a derringer-type pistol, a cowboystyle revolver, three semi-automatic pistols and a shotgun.
"The travelers did not declare any firearms during the primary examination but firearms were discovered in the vehicle during a secondary examination," said CBSA official Stefanie Wudel.
The incident was just one of a number of recent cases in which Americans have had their weapons seized and face accusation of failing to declare them upon entering Canada.
Vancouver lawyer Joel Whysall, who represents the pair, said the men are both retired and have no criminal records.
"These are people who have never been in trouble in their lives and they spent five days in the North Surrey Pre-Trial Centre with hardened criminals and drug addicts," Whysall said. "They were completely besides themselves and it took their wives five days to raise bail to get them out."
The two were charged with a number of offences, including smuggling and possession of loaded, prohibited weapons, which carries a three-year minimum sentence.
Whysall said having firearms in Texas is a fact of life there.
"It seems they believe they have to have guns to protect their property," he said.
Canadian border officers in B.C. have seized 75 firearms so far this year, a 32% increase over the same period last year, when 57 were seized.
The weapons were mainly confiscated from U.S. travellers who failed to declare them.
It is illegal to bring undeclared firearms into Canada.