Calgary Herald

Twice-deported man’s case shows border is ‘porous’

- SHERRI ZICKEFOOSE CALGARY HERALD

News that a man twice deported from Canada has been charged in an enormous cocaine bust is raising questions about how easily internatio­nal criminals are slipping past the country’s borders.

Leopoldo Fernando Rojo Beltran, 34, was deported in 2000 and 2003, and now faces charges of returning without authorizat­ion. The Canada Border Services Agency charged Beltran last December for returning illegally following a police investigat­ion into a cocaine traffickin­g ring called Operation High Noon.

The agency would not say whether Beltran entered Canada illegally with false identifica­tion or by smuggling himself. But Beltran’s presence in Calgary is raising questions about the security of our borders.

“It shows you how porous our borders are and the fact that these criminals are masters of deception, whether they’re using false identities or going the smuggling route. It’s really easy to do. We don’t know how many of these characters are around,” said retired police officer and former Calgary Conservati­ve MP Art Hanger.

“The government has to crack down on this. They’re going to have to pull up their socks and tighten up the border. This revolving door for inter- national criminals is consuming far too much time,” he said. “He deserves nothing but hard incarcerat­ion, and when and if he does his time, he should be booted out of the country and flagged in such a way. He is a known and habitual criminal — he would he stopped at any check point.”

Beltran was one of 14 people arrested in the interprovi­ncial investigat­ion where police seized 80 kilograms of powder cocaine, worth $8 million on the street.

They also seized four handguns, a rifle, body armour and $330,000 in cash as part of the year-long investigat­ion, announced Monday.

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