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June 8, 2005
Great Moments In Border Control

Question: If you're a border guard for a country at war with terrorists and you stop someone who has in his possession a homemade sword, brass knuckles, a hatchet, and a chainsaw which looks like blood all over it, what do you do?

A. Shoot the man on sight.
B. Arrest him and call for a psychiatrist.
C. Take his weapons and welcome him to America.

Apparently, choice C is American policy for security. A border guard in Maine made that decision and allowed a double murderer across the border in order to flee the scene:

Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, on April 25 carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres.

Then they let him into the United States.

The next day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on his kitchen floor. The man's head was in a pillow case under the kitchen table. His common-law wife was found fatally stabbed in a bedroom.

Despres, 22, immediately became a suspect because of a history of violence against his neighbors. He was arrested April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway in a sweatshirt with red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on murder charges, awaiting an extradition hearing next month.

How could this happen? Despres is a naturalized US citizen, and US Customs and Border Control claims it had no basis on which to detain him. Their spokesman says that Despres was held for over two hours while they checked for any wants and warrants on both sides of the border before allowing him to leave. However, it doesn't appear that anyone checked really hard:

On the same day Despres crossed the border, he was supposed to be in a Canadian court for sentencing on convictions of assaulting and threatening to kill Mr. Fulton's son-in-law, Frederick Mowat, in August.

Mr. Mowat told police that Despres had been bothering his father-in-law for the past month. When Mr. Mowat confronted him, Despres purportedly pulled a knife, pointed it at Mr. Mowat's chest and said he was "going to get you all."

After the two murders were discovered in New Brunswick, all of a sudden law enforcement found a history of Dupres' violence against neighbors. That's when they decided to look for the man who they'd allowed to freely walk into the US, where he'd presumably have new neighbors to threaten -- and found him walking around in a blood-stained sweatshirt.

Meanwhile, the border patrol continues to make more excuses:

"Nobody asked us to detain him," Mr. Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up."

Mr. Anthony conceded that it "sounds stupid" that a man wielding what appeared to be a bloody chain saw could not be detained. But he added: "Our people don't have a crime lab up there. They can't look at a chain saw and decide if it's blood or rust or red paint."

Well, how about the brass knuckles? Since when are those legal to carry, especially across the border? The entire concept of counterterrorism seems to have escaped the border patrol.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 8, 2005 4:42 AM

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