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Undercover RCMP Took Part In Illegal Activity 16 Times Over Five Years

Here are all the times RCMP officers were authorized to take part in criminal acts in recent years.

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RCMP officers were authorized to help break the law 32 times over five years as part of undercover investigations, including delivering explosives to a potential terrorist and engaging in identity theft.

Ben Nelms / Reuters

Canadian law allows for police to commit — or order others to commit — illegal acts during investigations if they are reasonable and proportional.

In 2013 the RCMP helped someone deliver an explosive substance as part of an investigation into a terrorist group. In 2014 they participated in counterfeiting while investigating organized crime.

Back in 2012 they dabbled in forgery and illegal tobacco, and a few times in recent years officers found themselves in illegal gambling dens.

All of these were acts that would otherwise be illegal, but were approved as part of undercover investigations.

Each act has to be authorized in writing by senior RCMP brass. A review of public disclosure documents shows the RCMP gave officers approval to encourage illegal activity 32 times over a five-year window. The officers followed through on the authorizations 16 times.

The investigations ranged from terrorism to organized crime to illegal tobacco.

The exemptions only stretch so far. Officers are not allowed to commit certain acts, such as causing bodily harm, violating the sexual integrity of a person, or obstructing the course of justice.

The RCMP have to release the broad details of illegal acts committed in a yearly public report. From 2010 to 2014 (the 2015 report has not yet been released) the RCMP only authorized officers to order others to commit illegal acts, not to commit them themselves.

Here is a rundown of the authorizations.

2014 — Nine authorizations were granted and six were committed.

  • The crimes being investigated were: organized crime activities.
  • The acts that RCMP officers directed someone to commit were: participating in activities of criminal organizations, dealing in counterfeit money, possession of counterfeit currency.

2013 — Thirteen acts were authorized and four were committed.

  • The crimes being investigated were: being part of a terrorist group and facillitating terrorist activity.
  • The acts that RCMP officers directed someone to commit were: delivering an explosive substance (or, in legal terms, providing/making available property or services for terrorist purposes and using explosives.)

2012 — Three authorizations were granted, and all three were used.

  • The crimes being investigated were: bribery of officers, illegal gambling, and contraband tobacco.
  • The acts that RCMP officers directed someone to commit were: frauds on the government, a false statement, forgery, being found in a betting house, unlawful possession of tobacco, unlawful purchase of illegal tobacco products.

2011 — Five authorizations were granted, one of which was used

  • The crimes being investigated were: importation of a controlled substance, fraud, conspiracy to commit murder, terrorism activity, human smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering, and tobacco smuggling.
  • The act that RCMP officers directed someone to commit was: making and using a forged document.

2010 — Four authorizations were granted and two were used.

  • Crimes being investigated: mortgage fraud, terrorist activity, organized crime running a betting house.
  • The acts that RCMP officers directed someone to commit were: going to an illegal betting house and "offences in relation to identity fraud and identity theft."

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at paul.mcleod@buzzfeed.com.

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