Nelson Mounties seize helicopter

For the second time in as many years, local police have seized a helicopter believed to have been involved in drug smuggling.

A helicopter seized by Nelson RCMP in May is now going through civil forfeiture proceedings.

For the second time in as many years, local police have seized a helicopter believed to have been involved in drug smuggling.

The Bell 206 was confiscated from a property in Spallumcheen in May by members of the Nelson RCMP border integrity program, although it was only announced this week.

The search warrant stemmed from an investigation into a helicopter seen flying around Lumby for about two years, police said in a news release.

It’s believed the chopper was being used to smuggle cocaine from the US to Canada.

The 33-year-old owner of the helicopter was arrested but later released without charges.

“In this case we didn’t so much recommend charges as discuss the case with Crown counsel, and Crown said there’s not enough evidence for a successful prosecution,” says Nelson Cpl. Chad Badry.

However, the helicopter is being held under the Civil Forfeiture Act, and police hope it forces smugglers to think twice about using that method again.

Under the civil forfeiture process, property can be auctioned off even if charges are not laid, as the burden of proof is a balance of probabilities, not beyond a reasonable doubt as in criminal court.

“If they’re 51 per cent positive it was involved in criminal activity, it can be forfeited to the Crown,” Badry says.

He adds the helicopter was purchased for $425,000, and the fact such an expensive vehicle would be used “underscores the value of the drugs they’re moving across the border.”

Although local officers were directly involved in the investigation, Badry says there’s no direct connection to this area or evidence the chopper was flown over local skies.

“It was over towards Revelstoke, Invermere, went over to the Okanagan, and moved around a bit to the last location where it was seized,” he says.

Still, he has “no doubt” the helicopter would have been in West Kootenay at some point, as “the terrain is conducive to low flying helicopter smuggling.”

In January 2010, police seized a Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopter from a property south of Silverton, also believed to have been involved in drug smuggling. Charges were not laid in that case either, but the chopper was forfeited to the Crown.

Badry says the cases are unusual in BC: “I don’t think there have been any other helicopter seizures related to drug smuggling. It’s pretty unique.”

Just Posted

Touchstones gala celebrates the great outdoors

Breaking Trail will be held June 1

Richard Hill’s bird photographs at the Nelson library

‘Big and Small: Birds Found in the West Kootenay’ is on display through June

Energy efficiency session at the Nelson Public Library

Nelson Hydro customers who are seniors are now eligible for free weatherization upgrades

LETTER: Giveaway items becoming an eyesore

From readers Ron and Diane Baerg

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read