MAPLE RIDGE, British Columbia – A horse trailer may have been used to smuggle a large quantity of drugs into a Maple Ridge prison.
Police are investigating, but won’t provide details on the trailer, which was dropped off for repairs at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre by a woman on March 7.
Dean Purdy, a spokesperson for the B.C. Government Employees Union’s correctional and sheriff services section, said the trailer remained at the men’s prison for some time while staff tried to contact the owner.
Drugs were discovered inside the prison shortly after the trailer arrived on site, but Purdy was unable to confirm if they were directly linked to the trailer.
The shipment may have also contained unauthorized cell phones.
In March 2009, a gang member received a nine-month conditional sentence after pleading guilty to one count of trafficking cocaine inside FRCC. Eight other counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking were stayed against him.
In May 2008, after a 20-year-old man died at FRCC, the union representing correctional officers at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre claimed drug use at the prison was “very prevalent,” worse than at any of the nine provincial prisons.
The B.C. Government Employees Union also said that “marijuana, cocaine and heroin” were being bundled up inside tennis balls and lobbed into the prison yard at FRCC, then smuggled inside the facility by prisoners, who also pick up drugs and smuggle them into the prison while working in crews off the prison site.
Fraser Regional has several programs that allow inmates to work in the community at a fish hatchery and as highway or ground maintenance crews.
Purdy said sometimes inmates hide contraband on their bodies to smuggle it inside. By law, correctional officers cannot perform a cavity search.
The employees╒ union will be speaking to prison management about staff-to-inmate ratios to determine whether a lack of supervision may have led to a slip.
B.C. Corrections confirmed that RCMP was notified about the trailer after it was brought to a fenced in outdoor area to be repaired by inmates who participate in the prison’s work programs.
As a result of the incident, the prison strengthened its policy to prohibit public vehicles from being accepted into any on-site work programs.
A spokesperson for B.C. Corrections said the prison has many security practices in place around the programs. They include security checks of all contractors, regular searches of inmates and tool checks.