BUT, the best part of the story is that this hardened criminal, who will be incarcerated with the toughtest gang lords, was released on $2,000 bail and continued on his way out of the country up to Alaska. His trial won't be for a year or so.
(You should note that mandatory minimum sentences are new to Canada. They have only come in during the last few years under the current government who have decided to get tough on crime, regardless of the fact that crime has dropped consistently since the 1960s.)
I'm all for stopping guns coming into Canada, but even I see the irony of this.
A Washington state charter boat owner who sailed into Pender Harbour and failed to declare three loaded handguns was facing a minimum mandatory threeyear jail sentence for smuggling firearms into Canada, his defence lawyer said.
Port Angeles resident Fred Rodolf, 72, will still face a one-year minimum mandatory jail sentence if federal prosecutors allow him to plead guilty to a less serious charge, Victoria lawyer Tom Morino said Friday.
"So I said 'No. We'll see you in court,' " said Morino. "This is a classic example of what is wrong with minimum mandatory sentences. The people we're after with this three-year minimum mandatory jail sentence are organized criminals smuggling handguns on the black market, not some poor guy who stupidly leaves the guns on his boat and comes into Canada with the intention of simply continuing on his way."
Rodolf was arrested May 3 after arriving in Bedwell Harbour aboard Lu-lu Belle, his 22.5-metre vessel. He was on his way to Alaska where he runs a charter business for about six months of the year, said Morino.
Upon arrival, Rodolf called Customs. When a Canada Border Services officer asked Rodolf if he had any weapons aboard, he replied that he had a shotgun, said Morino. Officers boarded the vessel and noticed a box of .38 shells beside a box of shotgun shells.
At first, Rodolf denied having any other weapons aboard, but within five minutes he admitted having three loaded handguns aboard and showed them to the officers, said Morino.
"They seized the three handguns and gave him a civil fine on the spot of $3,000 -that's $1,000 per handgun. They arrested him and took him into custody," said Morino.
Rodolf has been charged with making a false statement to Canada Border Services officers, three counts of smuggling loaded handguns, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. He was released on $2,000 cash bail and resumed his journey to Alaska. The case will probably go to trial sometime next year.
RCMP Cpl. Linda Simpson, with the Outer Gulf Islands detachment, said Americans bringing handguns into Canada is a common problem, especially in the spring and summer.
"They carry handguns around in the pockets like Smarties. To them, owning guns is commonplace. It's a fundamental right and their beliefs are deep-rooted. But we're very different," said Simpson.
The RCMP officer hopes more Americans travelling through Canada become aware that there are rules and regulations.
"If they research our procedures and protocols before coming here, there's no problem. We can assist them in moving their weapons to Alaska," said Simpson. "But they must abide by our laws, as we do with them."
Some U.S. citizens are just not aware. Others, who know, do not think it is an issue, said Simpson.
"They think 'We're not staying in Canada. We're checking in because we have to and going on through to our own country Alaska.' Their intent is to motor right on by. The other means of getting those weapons to Alaska could be costly or intricate."
Morino said his client probably understood he was not allowed to bring handguns into Canada without the proper permits to transport them.
"But the boat had been in dry dock and he was in a bit of a rush because otherwise he would normally have left the handguns in Port Angeles."
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