Province adds radio jammers, aftermarket GPS trackers to civil forfeiture program list

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B.C.’s civil forfeiture program is responding to what the provincial government calls “disturbing crime trends” by going after several tools linked to dangerous activities in the drug trade.

Radio jammers and aftermarket GPS trackers have been added to the civil forfeiture program’s list of tools being used by organized crime and drug traffickers to further violence and avoid law enforcement. 

The province said radio jammers, illegal under the federal Radiocommunication Act, have been used by gangs to block the ability of police using GPS to monitor them and to block radio communication by authorities. 

Police found a growing number of traffickers use aftermarket GPS trackers to target rivals with violence or to keep tabs on subordinates, vehicles and high-value contraband items such as guns and drugs, according to a media release from the province.

“Any device that interferes with communication among front-line officers or that supports gang members in targeting their rivals with violence, has no place in the hands of criminals,” said Fiona Wilson, deputy chief of the investigation division, Vancouver Police Department. “Any additional measures that deter criminal use of these devices is welcome as we and other police agencies work to curb profit-driven violence in the drug trade and by organized crime.”

Vehicles or other property containing these devices may be considered instruments of unlawful activity, the province said.

“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.”

Items currently prescribed in law as presumed to indicate unlawful activity include weighing scales and records of drug sales and debts.

The Civil Forfeiture Act became law in 2006 and targets the proceeds and instruments of crime. Proceedings are initiated by the director of civil forfeiture against both the profits of alleged unlawful activity and the instruments used to acquire it.

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