The province is looking to keep $271,760 recovered by the RCMP in connection to a wayward shipment of 100 kilograms of illicit cannabis belonging to an unknown Nanaimo resident.
On Nov. 5, 2021, an Abbotsford company contacted the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) to report it had received a cargo crate containing several garbage bags of dried cannabis, which was later determined to be 100 kilograms.
The crate was bound for Newfoundland and had been shipped with Van Kam Freightways from Nanaimo by a man who listed his name as “John.” But the crate was mislabeled and inadvertently shipped to Abbotsford instead.
Abbotsford Police tried to call John at the number he provided to Van Kam, but their calls went unanswered.
On Nov. 12, Van Kam contacted the Nanaimo RCMP when a new crate from Newfoundland was shipped back to John. Van Kam turned the crate over to the RCMP and on Nov. 20, the RCMP discovered several bags of money stashed in a small refrigerator.
“The money was bundled or packaged in a manner not consistent with standard banking practices,” says a statement of claim filed by B.C.’s director of the office of civil forfeiture.
In the filing, the office of civil forfeiture argues that the money is proceeds from, and an instrument of, unlawful activity in contravention of the Cannabis Act, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, and the Criminal Code. The claim states the money is also a failure to declare taxable income contrary to the Income Tax Act.
Therefore, the province is seeking to seize the money under the Civil Forfeiture Act, which allows B.C. to seize property and proceeds related to unlawful activity.
From 2006 to 2021, the Civil Forfeiture Office has received more than 10,000 file referrals from law enforcement, resulting in $129 million in forfeitures. Of that, $66 million has gone back into communities in the forms of crime prevention and remediation, grants and compensation to eligible victims. The other half has gone toward office operations.
Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Const. Gary O’Brien confirmed to Black Press Media that the matter remains under active investigation.
The claim was filed on March 2. John Doe had 21 days to respond to the notice of claim; however, no response has been filed.
The claims have not been tested in court.