Quebec police arrest three in connection with cannabis export scheme to the US

| Morton Robertson

Police in Québec say they arrested three people on Tuesday, February 13, in connection with the illicit export of cannabis to the United States.

In addition to these arrests, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) searched the WRS transport company in Val-d’Or, following an investigation that began in 2021 by members of the Val-d’Or Major Crimes Team, reports Radio Canada.

Val-d’Or is located about a six-and-a-half-hour drive northwest of Montreal. WRS Pro-Transport advertises a fleet of 16 trucks in service throughout Canada and the United States.

Through their investigation, police say they located a load of cannabis hidden under the trailer of a truck destined for the US. This was hidden without the knowledge of the driver. 

Following their initial discovery, police located more than 136 kilograms of cannabis intended for illicit export at various locations. These searches were carried out by the SQ as well as the RCMP, the Laval City Police and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Sergeant Hugues Beaulieu, spokesperson for Sûreté du Québec, says the two men and one woman arrested were then released pending further proceedings.

Illicit cannabis exports of cannabis from Canada to the US and other locations abroad are not uncommon. Reports of illicit products making their way to foreign shores tend to be reported in police seizures. 

Officials in Hong Kong have reported seizing large amounts of cannabis, often from Canada, as have officials in Italy, where more than 100 kilograms were discovered earlier this year by police. 

Despite stiff penalties, Hong Kongers, especially young people, are illegally importing hundreds of kilograms of cannabis from Canada and the US, local officials noted in 2020.

Most recently, Hong Kong customs seized 120 kilograms of cannabis from Canada in August 2023 in a shipment listed as chickpeas, and another 100 kilograms on July 25, declared as leisure patio chairs.

A fairly recent article in the Dutch newspaper BN DeStem noted a large seizure of cannabis en route from Canada to Germany, asking if North America was replacing the Netherlands as a source of cannabis in the region. 

The US saw a similar spike in large seizures of cannabis while the border was closed to non-essential traffic. Canadian cannabis making its way to the US is not new, but with more US states legalizing, distributors of cannabis looking for markets can still utilize US channels to send cannabis to foreign shores. 

Similarly, as more US states legalize, the allure of higher prices abroad can be difficult to resist for Canadian producers in a saturated market.