07/04/2013 12:14 EDT | Updated 09/03/2013 05:12 EDT

Pearson Airport Bathroom Cocaine: CBSA Discovers Over 18 Kg Of Suspected Drug


TORONTO - Border officials say they've seized more than 18 kilograms of suspected cocaine stashed in a bathroom at Toronto's Pearson airport.

The Canada Border Services Agency made the announcement Thursday, weeks after the June 17 discovery.

The agency says its officers noticed suspicious packages in the men's bathroom in the Terminal 3 customs inspection hall and found 16 plastic-wrapped parcels tucked into an overhang above the stalls.

It says preliminary testing suggests they hold cocaine but the Mounties, who have the packages, will send a sample to Health Canada to make a final determination.

RCMP spokeswoman Michele Paradis says officers also found a cellphone, batteries, a charging cord and a battery charger and that a forensic analysis is being done of the items for fingerprints and other possible clues.

Despite the need for lab testing, Paradis says the force is "99 per cent" sure the results will come back positive for cocaine.

"I can't see why somebody would put baby powder, for example, up in the ceiling top of the airport," she said.

She said no arrests have been made so far in the case.

A recently released intelligence report by the border services agency says cocaine continues to be smuggled into Canada in significant quantities by air, sea, land and by post.

Three factors that determine the quantity of cocaine smuggled into Canada are the global supply of the drug, the size of the domestic market and the degree to which Canada is used as a transhipment point for cocaine destined to other countries, says the August 2012 report, obtained under the Access to Information Act.

In Canada, the drug is primarily distributed from the lower mainland of British Columbia, Toronto and Montreal.

In 2011, the border agency seized 1.3 metric tonnes of cocaine.

Interceptions in the Toronto area accounted for almost 80 per cent of cocaine seized from smugglers trying to bring in the drug by air.

The vast majority of the air mode seizures was in the traveller stream. “This includes drug couriers as well as cocaine found concealed within commercial passenger aircraft,” says the heavily redacted report.

“Canadian Ports of Entry will continue to see cocaine smuggling threats in all modes.”

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version reported the packages were confirmed to contain cocaine.

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