The Way of the Smuggler
J. D. Ronald
Who wrote “The Master Smuggler," “The Smuggler and His Remarkable Drum."
IT IS a peculiar weakness of human nature that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred people have little or no compunction about cheating the Government revenues.
Women always seem to have the idea that a pleasure trip across the line between the United States and Canada is incomplete unless they have added to it the zest of smuggling articles of dothing. They
never think of paying duty on what they buy and are almost always highly indignant when called upon to do so. Summer and winter this smuggling goes on ami the customs officers both at the frontier and on the trains and boats have to be constantly on the watch.
So consistently insistent are the ladies in their smuggling operations that the customs keeps two or three lady experts always on the move where Internationál traffic is most frequent. These lady experts move about unostentatiously. They allow a month or so to lapse between their visits to various points then some fine day when the boats and trains are crowded, the ladies on board find themselves herded like sheep into a fold to be called forth one at a time and thoroughly searched for smuggled goods. Great is the indignation and many and hot are the expletives hurled at the lady officer She goes about her work notwithstanding, firm but courteous; and the results are always very profitable to the customs revenue. One of these women experts has been known to take in almost a thousand dollars at a single raid. The materials smuggled in this way are invariably dutiable at 35 per cent.
Ladies who go across the line quite slim return full of bust and wide of hip. Their usual method is to fill their corsets with small wares such as gloves, collars, handkerchiefs, and silk stockings. It is not infrequent for a woman to have on three siik blouses, and as many skirts, while to a string tied around her waist underneath her skirts will be suspended all manner of goods from dress lengths, remnants of linen to high-class millinerv.
To thoroughly search a ladv’s clothing is quite an intricate task. Thev cannot resent as an indignity being searched by one of their own sex. They protest vigorously, however, and generally the stronger the protest the more concealed goods are found.
The women in the customs department are so thoroughly conversant with the niethods of the feminine smuggler that thev can tell from outward appearance and facial expression when contraband is being carried.
NOT long ago a^special officer of customs en 'route from Toronto to Buffalo was sitting in the parlor car as the train stopped at the Ambitious City. He
noticed five well dressed ladies board the train. They came and took seats in the car across the aisle from him. They had all the appearance of refinement and were evidently on pleasure bent but each carried an empty suitcase. Quite frankly they opened the suitcases and compared notes.
“\\ e should have no trouble in passing the United States Customs going over,” said one, a robust young lady.
“It’s coming back we’ll have to be more carefuU” said a more timid one.
“Here is the way I’ll fix that,” said a third. She slipped a five-dollar bill out of her purse. “That’s for the customs Johnnie as we come back,” These five were society women in Hampton. Their conversation then turned tov what they were going to buy in Buffalo. The custom’s officer, who was all ears, decided^ that they were going to leave quite some considerable Canadian coin behind them in Buffalo.
When passing the frontier he dropped off the train for a moment found the Chief Officer of the Port took him aboard and pointed the ladies out to him. “Watch for them coming back,” he directed.
That evening on the six o’clock train the five shoppers, tired but satisfied flopped into their chairs on the return trip. They were very much surprised at the Canadian border when a customs officer stepped into the car and asked that all ladies follow him to the waiting room in the station. In the waiting room they were met by a lady officer who had been called to that point during the day. The officer went silently but systematically to work.
“This is an absolute outrage for respectable ladies to be treated this way. I am going to have my husband appeal to the Minister of Customs at Ottawa and have these officials dismissed.” said the young lady who had manipulated the five dollar bill in the morning.
“You will please step this way,” said the officer, singling her out for the first search.
“I have absolutely nothing upon me and I am not going to submit to any such indignity as being searched.”
“Bring your suitcase andveome this way,” repeated the lady officer. “The train leaves in fifteen minutes. If I am not through you and your friends remain over night”
The indignant lady weakened at this and followed protestingly into the private room. As the officer ran per hands lightly over the passenger’s clothing, she discovered no end of stuff—millinery ornaments. silk stockings, gloves, ostrich feathers, a dozen suits of silk underwear, two silk skirts. When s H e was through the passenger had been stripped almost to the skin. ITrom her person there had actually been taken over two Ihundred dollars’ worth of clothing. Thelsuitcase yielded 'about fifty dollars’ worth more. The duty payable on this day’s shopping amounted to about seventy dollars. But —and this was the tragedy of it-j-the indignant young matron had been so confident of her ability to get by the Customs that she had spent all her money in the stores and had not a cent left)to pay duty. So the goods were confisca
From seven t>ther ladies in the car, all of whom protested volubly that they had nothing, about eight hundred Hollars’ worth’ of goods were taken. Not! one of them had enough money left to fay the duty. The goods being confiscated! meant that, to get them back, thi*'owners would have to pay the value of the gootls plus the duty. So that was ^pretty ^xpens ive day’s shopjJirtpt *
IS another instance a young laaÿ who had been to New York taking la post graduate course in nursing at the completion of which she intended to get married, put on a new’ pair of boots when she dressed in the morning beford crossing the line. She was proud of the boots and possibly also of her w’ell-shod anklejs. At any rate she placed her feet up^dn the seat in front of her w’hen, the customs officer came along. He did not happen to be a lady’s man and asked her promptly to pay duty on the new’ boots. She tossed her head haughtily and challenged Him to take them off. Off they came in al jiffy. In her suitcases there*was about twrej hundred dollars’ w’orth of silk hose, underwear and furbelows. She had no money left to pay the duty; and so lost all her trousseau finery. I
The facts in connection with customs work lead inevitably to the conclusion that w’omen are gamblers at heart. (They w’ill risk all on a single throw. Knowing that detection means the confiscation of the goods unless thev can pay the amount of the duty, thev will attempt to smuggle ove? any amount and any manner of acinis without a sou markee left. This doei not occur in isolated cases. It is occurring all the time.
ABOUT three^years ago^the ladieslin a Western Ontario town, adjoining the border, became inoculated with the »ony coat fad. The collector of customs in Jthis tow’n noticed the number of ladies wear-
ing pony coats asked his officers any of these h some coats had declared for autyi pur poses. The reply~ was in the negative.: That afternoon a report~r for the local paper cafled on the collec4or and the latter gave it out casually thatj he intended holding a reception for the Iladies wearing pony coats in his town 4n the following Mon-. day. The reporte~ took the hint and worded~ his announ~ement in such a way that on the day na~ned two hundred and fifty ladies called on~ the collector and paid the duty on their 4~oats which had been purchased in Det$it. They all apolo gized piofusely.
O NE evening no~ long ago the wife of a prominent r4~erchant in Toronto boarded a T. H. &~ B. train' in Buffalo. She had her arms f4fl of parcels and was sccompanied by `tw~p r -capped station boys loaded with all whey could carry. She took her seat in thel parlor car and carefully hung her coat lover the back of the chair. The coat realthed to the floor and snread around~ the ides like a canopy. She `then neatly ary~ringed her parcels in a complete circle aro$nd the bottom of her chair so -that the co't covered them, put the remaining two three at her back and sat down, care ully spreading her skirts so as to con I the front of her chair and feet. Whe she was thus safely ensconced she resem led a plump cluck ing hen sitting on a n st of eggs. Rut in stead of chicks she tched troubles out of this setting. The ar was full of oas sengers when the trai pulled into Bridgeburg on the Canadia side. As the Cus toms officer approac ed she opened her grip, and tried to leo unconcernedly out of the window. The ffieer picked up the trip at the same tim brushing the coat from the back of th chair. This dis t!o~~d the nest of üa ls.
“Madame.” he said "I am afraid we wil! have to ask vox to step into the office.”
“Me?” she said I>king £n-ound indignantly. .
“Yes." replied the erker, “if these parcels under the. chair ielong to you. you will have to pay duty on the goods they eontam.”
“Parcels under my chair!” .exclaimed the woman, hysterical!; \ “I have no parcels. Somebody must have put them
there. They are not mine. I would not try to smuggle anything.”
The people in the car. who had seen her place them there, were convulsed with laughter. The Customs officer gathered up the parcels and in doing so asked the lady to stand up. She obeyed moving to the centre of the aisle and as she did so there was a sound of cracking glass. The lady screamed ami jumped to ope side and a stream of silver spoons descended on the \fl«>or of the car. They had been concealed fcinderneath her skirts together with some small articles of cut glass. Thoroughly frightened now. she was taken from the train to the customs office and searched.
The services of a stenographer had to be enlisted on this occasion. It was really remarkable the quantity of goods found on this woman. She had everything from cut glass and silverware to si«le combs for
silverware to si«le combs for her hair. Her stockings' were full. The ‘goods were pinned on to her skirt and underskirt, and on wearing apparel still closer to her person. She had spent two days shopping in Buffalo; and when the officers were ^ _ through with
r \ her she had
? 1 been fined
close to five hundred dollars.
In July four ladies and two small
children took the Niagara boat for Lewiston. en route to Buffalo. They had no baggage except a lunch basket, and two lounge cushions which the children used. They went to Buffalo and did a bi&t;r «lav’s shopping; having quite a lot of goods sent to a room in a cheap hotel which they ha«i taken for the day. In the room the stuffing of the cushions, which had been made up of old newspapers, was removed, and silk underwear, ilresses. hose, shoes and gloves, in all. g«>ods to value of two hundred dollars, inserte«! in its place.
As the party approached the boat at Lewiston on the return trip the children were given the cushions to carry. As they were rather heavy for the tots to handle the children «Iraggeil the cushions along after them. The partv found a comfortable place on deck an«l were unmolested by the Customs officers on the way over. They reachetl their homes in peace and quietness. They had beaten the customs to it. as hundreds of others had «lone before them, and have «lone since. This particular scheme was an ingenious one but it would not work again. The Customs heard of this case some time after. It was too late to take any action but the fa«'ts were verified and now the officers look closely at all pillows that passengers carry.
* I ' HERE is a little boat runs fr«>m San-*■ dusky, Ohio, to Kingsville. Ontario. Its points of call are Leamington, Kingsville. Peele Island, and Sandusky.
This boat was a veritable highway for smuggling.
One day, without'warning, after the boat ha«l reached the Canadian si«le of the boundary line which cuts through the middle of Lake Erie, a man appeared on deck with a small hand grip. He opened it and took out a cap with a badge "Can-
ada Customs,” thereon. This he put on his head and proceeded to make a little speech. The deck was crowded with passengers. He told them that he had enjoyed the trip across in the morning splendidly. It had been a beautiful trip and Cleveland was a fine place to shop in "But you know, ladies and gentlemen.” he wpnt on. “There is a duty to be paid on all goods coming into Canada from the Unite«! States, I have to ask you all to come forward and pay the duty on such goods as you have bought in Sandusky and Cleveland to-flay,”
There was consternation on board that boat. The women and men crowded around the Customs man in a threatening attitude. But there he stood bland and polite, and told them to “come across." The men swore while some of the women grew hysterical.
“I am sorry,” said the customs officer, “that you feel so badly about this matter. But duty must be done.”
He signaled the captain to stop the boat. As the boat slowed down and came to a standstill, almost in the middle of Lake Erie, a big burly farmer walked up to the Custom’s officer with a pair of shoes. “I guess we’re it, friend.” he said. “And there is no use of making a fuss about it. How much duty have I got to pay?” Just as the farmer spoke four women shied their parcels at the Customs officer’s head. Two of them containing boots hit the farmer. One stout old lady approached the Customs officer and asked timidly: “I can’t very well undress on board tkp boat and all the clothing I have on is new. I have no money left to pay duty. There are several other ladies in the same position I am. What are we going to do?”
! “You an«! your lady friends stand to one side.” replie«! the Customs officer, “and I will find a way to help you out."
Stopping the boat had a soothing effect on the passengers. They began to come forwanl meekly, until the Customs officer was inumlated with parcels containing goods of various descriptions. He «*ollected close to five hundred dollars that day in duties.
THE petty smuggling is not all done by the ladies, however. The men do their share; but they do not go about it as smoothly as the ladies.
For years the Customs had serious trouble with owners of automobiles smuggling tires which were dutiable at thirtyfive per cent. Men would motor across the line with their old tires, discard the o!«l ones and replace them with new tires. Then they would run the car forty or fifty miles before returning across the line thus taking the new appearance off the tires. And accordingly at the frontier they would not be questioned.
The Customs authorities soon became aware of this practice and. to stop it. they instituted a system of checking all cars 'out by serial numbers. The motor of each &t;*ar has-its factory serial number. So have all parts inclutiing the tires. Thus they were able to ascertain when new tires had been, put OR.
A prominent stock and financial broker of Toronto «levised a scheme by which he expected “to beat this system of identificatum. He owned a large six-cylinder car. the tires of which «*ost over a hundred «lollars apiece. He motored to Buffalo once and purchased a complete r.ew outfit of tires, including a “spare." He had the serial numbers of his old tires cut out anil vulcanize«! into the new ones. Then.
after a long spin, he got by the Customs all right at the frontier. The new tires were covered with mud and the numbers checked in O.K.
Mr. Hi oker was very jubilant over having beaten the Customs, and one night, when he had been drinking too many highballs, he bubbled the story to a group of friends. Une of these friends knew a Customs officer intimately. Un another occasion a few highballs had the same . effect on this.friend and the Customs officer got the whole story.
He promptly went across the line, and walked into the repair shop where the vulcanizing had been done. The serial numbers of the new tires were still lying on the Workman’s bench. The Customs man gathered them up, went to the office, asked for copies of the invoices covering the tires corresponding with the numbers. He got them and returned to Toronto. He lost no time in calling at the office of the financial broker, and “putting it up" to him. The broker denied the charge and fussed and fumed and threatened and swore. But the Customs man sat pat. He held five aces, to wit, the serial numbers of the new tires.
“Now,” said the officer, as he laid his hand out on his side of the desk, “I want seven hundred and thirty-five dollars from you. Otherwise I will seize your car.” The car,-by the way, w'as standing at the door.
“But that is more than the duty on the tires,” protested the Broker.
“It is the value of the tires plus the duty,” returned the Customs man. “You are fined the value of the tires for being clever.”
The Broker sworç and tore and threatened an appeal to friends in the Government. Finally, how'ever, he handed the officer a cheque, with the remark: “Those , were d—d expensive tires. This puts the price over twelve hundred dollars.”
ANOTHER rich man in Toronto, a retired merchant, tried another method of securing expensive tires w’ithout paying the United States price plus thirty-five per cent. He was in Detroit on other business, and decided that it was a good opportunity to bring in a couple of tires.
He bought a whole section in the Pullman, taking upper and low'er berth. Then he had the porter put the tires in the upper berth and close it up. The colored gentleman in charge of the car was a dollar ahead; hut he lost his job later.
The smuggler’s chauffeur met him at the train on his arrival at Toronto; so there was no trouble getting the tires home. Another trip to Detroit followed a couple of weeks later and the game was repeated. The chauffeur thought it was a pretty good joke. He told somebody else.
That somebody else repeated the joke and before long it reached the ears of a Customs officer.
The Customs officer ran down the facts, found the car where it was stored in a garage, and put it under seizure.
The gentleman who owned it had proven rather elusive, for when the Customs officer had called to see him, he could not be found. However, the car was seized at ten a.m. and at ten thirty
the owner was after the Customs officer. He was in an apologetic frame of mind and carried his cheque book in his hand. He wanted to know how much he had to pay, and sighed with relief when told that it was five hundred and fifty dollars. Like the Broker he remarked: “Dashed expensive tires." They had cost him over eight hundred dollars.
* I * H K sales manager of an automobile manufacturing firm in Detroit, wished to establish some branch agencies in Ontario. To do this he decided to send ap salesman with a demonstrating car through the Province; but he did not want to pay duty on the car entering Canada for this purpose. So he hit qpen the idea of sending the salesman in with the car under, a tourist’s permit. The salesman started out in September with his demonstrating car, and started through the Provinces establishing agencies.
It is strictly contrary to law to use an automobile entered under a tourist’s permit for any manner of business whatever. But this did not worry the salesmanager. He was a wiseacre. At the expiration of the thirty days in which time the permit expired, there was no word of the car returning for export at the point of entry. Another thirty days went by and still no word of the car. The collector who had issued the permit gavelthe facts to a special officer and asked him to look up the car. This officer sent out \n S.O.S. call to all the collectors of Custmns in Ontario, giving a description of the car, the license number under which it was running, and also the name of the salesman who was driving the car. He received information in return showing that many agencies had been established in Ontario by this salesman, but there was no word of the car.
The special officer hunted high and low but could not locate that car. One day in December ,he had business in a small town not far from Toronto, and was walking down a back street. Passing a garage he chanced to look in, and there sat the car.. The Customs officer went
into the garage, asked whel-e the car came from, and was informed that the driver had been stalled in lthat town some time in November owing to bad weather and bad roads and had gone on without it. T
The officer gave the garagfe owner a receipt for the car, cranked It up, and drove it forty miles into Toronto that afternoon. Every tire was pftndtured during the trip. But the officer sluck to his car till he got it to headquaiters, and safely stored. I
Two days later the salesman turned up at the C ustom 'officer’s heao office in Toronto and made a bluff at demanding the release of his car. He had A>t a move on the board, however. When he denied establishing agencies, the Custofens officer laid the evidence before him, showing him the names and addresses of tne agents on his list. He “cussed” the Customs up hill and dow*n dale, but his car ultimately was forfeited. '
A RICH merchant from Vancouver, 1 * B.C., went to Detroit, the Mecca of the automobile industry, and purchased a high-class car. He did not mint paying four thousand dollars for it. [ But he balked at paying fourteen hundred dollars duty thereon. He w'as coming aslfar east as Toronto. The automobile manufacturer who sold it to him suggested taking it into Canada on a tourist’s permit.
So, the new owner entered the car on a tourist permit at W’indsor, and drtove it to Toronto; and there the car disappeared. The Customs searched for the cïr for a year, and finally found it at a paint outside of Vancouver. The car hid been shipped from London, Ontario, tolBritish Columbia. The owner Was fined! double the duty on the car in this case.
A MINISTER of the gospel in |a small * »-town in Manitoba, not far Mom the United States border line had delelo^ed his congregation and his church,[ to the point where he thought they could afford a high class organ to assist them in their song service. Having succeeded Tin collecting the necessary money for thd organ he proceeded to Minneapolis anji purchased the instrument. He did not order it shipped to his town in Canada,[but to a small town across the borderj about twenty miles away. On receiving notice that the organ had arrived at its destinatioji, this bright young parson engaged a Galician farmer to team the ôrgan from the station wnere it had landed across the border to his church. This manœuvre was successfully carried out and the instrument wal duly installed. It became the] pride of the congregation.
The question of hoi the organ had been carried past the Canadian Customs was never mooted. The wish ones and the preacher did not boast about their feat, because they were afraid they would have to put up the duty, if the prgan were discovered. And so the music swelled, the choir sang, the preacher preached, in happiness for a year. ( The innovation of the kist of wliistleq had become an old story.
The Galician who had teamed the organ in had prospered in the meantime. He wanted a threshing outfit and plow. This rugged farnier did not know much but he knew there was a duty on | such articles entering Canada, and he
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and found the parson at home Tee Customs officer presented his card Fee man of God went white and then turra«-: very red. Finally, however, he pulled himself together, said with admirable sangfroid: “I believe the chatter of duty on that organ was overlooked How much will it be?”
The invoice of the organ was produced. The Customs officer named the amount— a couple of hundred dollars. Fee Parson excused himself, ran over to a neighbor"? house and returned :n a few minutes w.th the money.
The Customs officer let him ôowh ea«y. He did not fine him.
The Galician chuckled all the way back home. Arriving there he went down into his trunk, fished up a roll of b.Ils like a young stove pipe, and paid the Custom« officer the duty on his threshing outfit He did it cheerfully.
“Canadian law is good." he said to the Customs officer “It is great. It is—how you say dat?—no respecter of person*.’"