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Border guard hung out with the mob

A Canadian border guard had known ties to organized crime, protected those associates and used his own position to evade the law, an investigation by the federal public sector watchdog has found.

The guard's relationship with organized crime dates back to before he joined the Canada Border Services Agency, an association his supervisors have known about for at least four years, public sector integrity commissioner Mario Dion reported Thursday.

The guard was warned about maintaining his connections to the criminal underworld, but didn't change his behaviour, Dion said in an interview after his report was tabled in the House of Commons.

"He essentially renounced his obligations and enforcement responsibilities and therefore failed to fulfil one of his core duties in maintaining safety at the border," he said.

The officer was fired after the commissioner's report was submitted to CBSA, he added.

The guard can not be named because of privacy laws, nor did Dion disclose the name of the criminal organization in question, except to say it operates throughout Canada and around the world.

The officer was stationed at the Pigeon River crossing in Thunder Bay, Ont., and police there are still investigating the case, Dion said.

"We did not discover any evidence of actual efforts to facilitate the transmission of goods," he said. "We simply were in a position to determine that on at least two occasions, this particular officer did not execute his duties as per the code of conduct."

On one occasion, the guard was at a Thunder Bay bar with two known associates of local organized crime around 2 a.m. when police arrived on the scene.

"The officer -- referred to above -- identified himself as a CBSA employee as a means to evade the law during a police operation in a local bar, which forms part of the overall finding of a serious breach of a code of conduct," the report found.

The officer also failed to fully search individuals and cars that were supposed to be under scrutiny by border guards.

One of the people the guard refused to search was described by police as "a 'participant' in the 'number one criminal organization' in Ontario."

The officer's refusal to do the search was documented in a 2009-2010 performance review. He told investigators that since he wasn't involved in any criminal activities, he didn't see his relationship with the individuals as a problem.

Those relationships clearly posed a risk for the agency, the report said.

A second officer was also identified in the whistleblower's report to Dion's office, accused of threatening to tamper with evidence if asked to investigate individuals linked to organized crime.

The officer was also accused of using his corporate credit card for personal business and repaying it out of his office's hockey pool funds, but Dion's office could not substantiate those allegations.

The report is the fourth issued by Dion's office in the last year, his office currently has 33 cases under investigation.

The Canadian Press


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