A small plane that landed in Sechelt on March 30 is being held by police on suspicion of being involved in marijuana smuggling.
On March 30, the Sunshine Coast RCMP Street Crew was contacted by members of the RCMP Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET) concerning an airplane that had evaded U.S. authorities and entered Canada.
"The airplane was believed to be carrying marijuana and the pilot was observed throwing packages out of the plane over a mountainous area," said RCMP Const. Andy Cook. "The plane landed at Sechelt Airport and an adult male exited the plane and walked away on foot."
Members of the Street Crew and general duties section located the 47-year-old man walking in the area and arrested him for possession of a controlled substance.
The plane was also located and a search warrant was executed.
Cook said no marijuana was found.
Members of IBET also came to Sechelt and are assisting with the investigation.
"Members of IBET are still investigating this incident and charges may be laid at a later date," Cook added. "The male was released without charge and the plane is being held until the owner is contacted. Marijuana smugglers will frequently use light aircraft to transport marijuana across the border and take advantage of the lucrative market for marijuana in the United States."
Cook said the marijuana is normally packaged in heat-sealed plastic or Ziploc baggies and placed in large hockey bags, then delivered to a small airfield or dropped from the airplane at a prearranged location and picked up by a ground crew.
"A large portion of the marijuana grown on the Sunshine Coast is destined for the United States market," Cook said. "There are organized groups of growers on the Sunshine Coast who are linked to organized crime groups and both are involved, in different capacities, in facilitating the transport and sale of this marijuana to the United States."
Police are interested in obtaining information on persons and vehicles (cars, trucks, boats and airplanes) that are being used to transport marijuana off the Sunshine Coast to other areas including the U.S. "Persons involved in these types of activities should note that their vehicle can be seized as offence related property if they are involved in these types of activities," Cook said.
Anyone with information on marijuana grow operations is urged to contact RCMP at 604-885-2266.