A Canadian woman shared her experience with security personnel at Vancouver International Airport, alleging that a security guard got angry because he couldn’t find any drugs on her, CBC News reports.
Jill Knapp, a Sunday School teacher, recalled that on January 9, 2016, she arrived at the Vancouver airport from Mexico City, where she had visited her husband. She explained that as she was going through customs, a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) decided that she was smuggling drugs before he even began speaking to her.
“Within two minutes he called me a drug smuggler, mentioned a strip search, and even said that he was going to send me to the hospital for an X-ray [to look for drugs]. And that was before he even asked me any questions,” she said.
Things got worse for Knapp from there, as she alleged that an agent raised her voice to her. Another agent accused her of lying when asked about her husband’s job. When she said he was a software engineer, an agent said that she was lying, allegedly telling her, “I deal with people like you every day.” An agent then confiscated her phone and demanded her password.
Agents continued to try to find drugs and continued to be unsuccessful. Nothing on her phone indicated any drug deals. A drug-sniffing dog couldn’t find any evidence of prohibited substances.
Knapp added that she was eventually placed in a detention facility for several hours, denied food, denied the chance to use the bathroom, prevented from using the phone, and given no explanation for why she was there or how long she would be there.
In addition, she was strip-searched, and as it turned out, no drugs were found.
It’s been three years, and Knapp is only talking about the incident now. She says it “traumatized” her and caused her to suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Knapp lodged a formal complaint, which she says went nowhere. She had to invoke Canada’s Privacy Act, and when she finally got the paperwork related to her own case, she found little reassurance. CBSA spokesperson Isabel McCusker wrote, in response to her complaint, that “the review of Ms. Knapp’s clearance established that the [border services officers] involved in her examination followed standard procedures and guidelines.”
Her case is not unusual. The CBSA, unlike literally every other major law enforcement agency in Canada, has no procedures in place that allow for an outside agency to review its actions and hold its personnel accountable. A review of complaints by CBC News found that at least 1,700 travelers have filed complaints against CBSA agents.