New changes to B.C.’s civil forfeiture program aim to target devices used by criminals and improve information sharing between public bodies to crack down on money laundering and organized crime.
Under the changes announced by the province Friday, (Jan. 14), radio jammers and aftermarket GPS trackers have now been classified as equipment related to trafficking. That list already includes items like weighing scales and records of drug sales and debts.
The province says criminals use radio jammers, which are illegal under the Radiocommunications Act, to block the ability of police using GPS to monitor them and to block radio communication by authorities. As for the GPS trackers, police have found a growing number of drug traffickers are using the devices to track rivals and keep tabs on subordinates, vehicles and high-value contraband items such as guns and drugs.
The Civil Forfeiture Office has also clarified the legal definition of “likely to cause bodily harm”. The office says this new definition will help ensure greater consistency in the court’s understanding and application of the term.
“We need to ensure that our civil forfeiture program is working as well as it can, so when police advise us about how drug gangs and organized crime are changing the ways they do business in B.C., we are committed to taking necessary steps to keep pace,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “These latest regulatory changes build on the legislative updates we made in 2019 and will help reduce violent crime and other activities that pose clear risks to public safety.”
Work is underway to formalize information-sharing agreements between the Civil Forfeiture Office and public bodies like the BC Securities Commission, the Motor Dealer Council, the BC Lottery Corporation, BC Hydro and BC Assessment. Information sharing between these groups can help strengthen cases against money laundering and gang activity.
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