RCMP Monitor & Raid Homes
from No Compromise Issue 7
 

By Darren Thurston
with David Barbarash and Gina Lynn

Government harassment is still alive and well in Canada these days. Activists in British Columbia (B.C.) report incidents of covert and overt surveillance, including having their homes and vehicles bugged, being followed regularly by plain-clothed cops, and, most recently, having their homes raided by the Feds. Darren Thurston and David Barbarash, both convicted of and having served prison time for A.L.F.-related "crimes" five years ago, have been the focus of much of this attention as of late. Of course, given their history, these courageous warriors are an easy target for stupid cops who apparently have no other leads in their attempt to solve these "crimes."

Vancouver, BC -- One day, while cleaning Gina's truck, I noticed a black metal box shoved way under the dashboard on the passenger side. Thinking it was more than a little strange, I partially pulled it out to take a closer look. It looked strange--it had stickers with serial numbers and connectors with several wires coming out of it. It was an audio transmitter, a bug. Although I didn't know who had placed it there, I could take several guesses as to who might have wanted to. Assuming that if there was a bug in the truck, there sure had to be one in the house as well, that night I looked around our home doing a fairly intense search of everything.

EXTERMINATING BUGS

At 3:00 a.m. I found the bug hidden in our furnace room, located right off our living room. I noticed some strange-looking, small, gray wires shoved way up next to a pipe in a hole in the ceiling, nestled in insulation. I pulled the wires out further to take a look. And, hmm...it looked pretty strange. The first thing I saw was a BC-Telephone pager that had a wire running through it to a circuit board --definitely not your normal home electrical wiring.

We contacted several lawyers to find out what the legalities of removing electronic surveillance equipment were. We did not know who had placed the device, be it private investigators hired by the fur (or other) corporate industry slimeballs, law enforcement, or national intelligence. Legal or illegal? Both transmitters were removed, taken apart to be inspected and photographed. Again, several lawyers' opinions were solicited as to the next course of action to be taken. After reviewing the options, it was decided to do nothing and keep the devices secured in a locked filing cabinet.

(In hindsight, the above course of action--to remove listening devices--could quite likely mean the next course of action for the cops would be house raids. Activists take note!)

FISHING EXPEDITIONS

Three days later, having been burned on the effectiveness of their surveillance bugs, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) carried out several raids in western Canada. Thursday morning, March 20th, the RCMP served search warrants at five locations: mine and Gina's house, David's house, David's storage locker, David's partner's house, and my mother's house. Four of the searches were carried out simultaneously in Vancouver and North Vancouver, B.C., while the fifth in Edmonton, Alberta, was carried out later that evening. An estimated 30 plain-clothes RCMP officers were involved in the searches.

The search warrants indicated that they were investigating 21 counts of intent to cause bodily harm (regarding Justice Department razor blade letters sent to big-game guide outfitters in January of '96) and 4 counts of attempted murder (regarding mail bombs sent to three racist leaders and a cattle genetics company in May, June, and July of '95).

ENTERING & THEFT

The warrants allowed for the seizure of items allegedly relating to those "crimes," such as unspecified computers (and all relevant equipment), modems, software (programs and instructions), hardware used to create bomb components such as timers, batteries explosive material, etc., dark items of clothing (including threads and fibers from these items), razor blades, utility knives, envelopes, tape, keys, and instruction manuals for operating any computer equipment seized. It also listed the electronic surveillance devices by serial number in the search warrants under the list of items to be seized (which is supposed to be a list only of items connected to alleged criminal activity--not their lost toys).

Basically, the warrants allowed for the seizure of anything and everything they wanted to take, by using language such as "including, but not limited to...." We don't have Grand Juries in Canada; instead we have giant fishing expeditions in the form of these searches.

One of the most ambiguous areas of the search warrant listed: "Any documentation and/or files that belong to, or relate to, Darren Thurston and David Barbarash including, but not limited to, letters and correspondence, telephone bills, diaries, address books and lists, notes, receipts, records of purchase, postage stamps, bomb building manuals and other literature relating to the building of bombs, and other papers including communiques, files and books relating to the offenses described below including newspaper clippings, scrap book collections, diagrams, drawings, notes and texts."

From our house, they took my laptop computer and external hard drive, my entire four-drawer file cabinet and all of its contents plus 10 boxes of stuff including miscellaneous files, over 100 computer disks, about 15 video tapes, assorted literature, several books, personal correspondence including letters sent to me in jail, photos, a cell phone, bolt cutters, a typewriter, photographs of the electronic surveillance devices, my Daytimer with all of my identification, all of my keys, phone bills, tax records, money, bank book, etc., etc., etc. Besides some of the above items belonging to Gina, they also took letters to her from Rod Coronado, her hairbrush, and a pile of her personal papers.

From David's house, his storage locker, and his partner's house, they took all of his tapes and CDs, eight boxes of his research and archival files, years of personal correspondence, various clothes, money, and tons more irrelevant stuff÷including elementary school report cards, a box of plastic animals and dinosaurs, and his niece's drawings--filling several boxes.

IN THE COURTS

Through our lawyer, we were represented at a hearing on May 6th, where the RCMP requested to have the information on which the search warrants were obtained sealed from us. Usually these requests are done automatically without anyone present but the cops and the judge. The RCMP, through the Justice Department, filed a 16-page affidavit to support their sealing request, but they did promise to release the search warrant information to us, unedited, on June 1st. To obtain the 16-page affidavit will mean another hearing.

On April 16th, without our or our lawyer's knowledge, they obtained a detention order allowing RCMP to keep all of the above for three additional months (as of that date), pending further investigation. We filed an application in the courts for the return of seized items on the grounds that their absence created hardships for us. As of May 13th, they have returned only a bare minimum of the items, including some of the money, I.D.s, keys, and phone books.

MOVING FORWARD

Over the past few years, there have been dozens of actions taken in B.C. and across Canada against animal abusers and their businesses, none of which have been "solved" by the police. These latest searches represent nothing more than a desperate attempt by the cops to appear that they are making progress on these cases, by focusing their attention on two of the most well-known animal activists in Canada. Although extremely stressful and disruptive, it is exactly this type of harassment which we must expect and be prepared for. As we collect the fragments of our files and our lives, we continue to move forward.

Anatomy of the Spooks' Tools

The black metal box was shoved up under the dash on the passenger side of Gina's Toyota pick-up. It's size was roughly that of a box encasing a cell phone (7-5/16" long by 2-1/2" wide and 1" deep). In fact, the device was basically a modified cell phone with the box containing three outputs--antenna and power on one side and microphone on the other.

The power was connected by a direct line to the truck's battery via the fuse box (an installation job during which the cops had disconnected the horn and some dashboard lights while the truck was being detained late last year under false pretenses, but that's another story...), and the antenna was connected to the then unused car stereo antenna (which was found to be mysteriously raised). The microphone was threaded under the dash from the transmitter and up under the corner paneling--the one between the windshield and the side window--coming to a rest across and to the right of where the passenger's mouth would be.

On the box and cell phone were serial numbers and a phone number. Speculation is that the number could be called and after entering a touch tone code, reception would be obtained at any time, even when the ignition was off. The use of a modified cell phone leads to further speculation about the possibilities of the bug being doubly used as a tracking device, since cell phones can leave traces of which area they are being used in.

Later, the next bug was found in the home of Darren and Gina. Shoved up into the roof of their basement suite, behind a piece of ceiling drywall that had been cut out and screwed back in place, was a massive battery pack consisting of twenty-four D-cells wrapped in electrical and duct tape. Connected to the pack was a circuit board, 1-1/4" by 2-1/4" and wrapped in soft plastic, with an attached pager enabling the pack to be turned on and off remotely. Also, connected by a wire to the circuit board was a flat, black, plastic-covered box 2-1/8" by 1-1/4" wide.

On one end, attached to a gold connector, was a long, black, flexible antenna measuring 5-1/4" long. Also coming out of the box were the microphones: two gray wires each ending in tiny (1/2" long by 1/8" wide and 1/16" thick) clear, plastic pieces, one labeled 'R' and the other 'L.' The microphones were hidden above the drywall and stuck to a pipe which came out of the furnace room and into the living room running a few inches below the ceiling. The metal pipe would make a good conductor of sound. There were serial numbers and a pager number on this device as well.

Warning Signs of Covert Eavesdropping or Bugging

Others know your confidential business or professional trade secrets.
You have noticed strange sounds or volume changes on your phone lines.
You have noticed static, popping, or scratching on your phone lines.
You can hear sounds coming from your phone's handset when it's hung up.
Your phone often rings and nobody is there or a tone/beep is heard.
Your radio or television has suddenly developed strange interference.
Secret meetings and/or bids seem to be less than secret.
People seem to know your activities when they shouldn't.
You have been the victim of a burglary, even if nothing was taken.
Electrical wallplates appear to have been moved slightly or "jarred."
Dime-sized discoloration has suddenly appeared on the wall paint.
White dry-wall dust/debris is noticed on the floor next to the wall.
Nails and screws previously covered with paint are scraped off or loose.
You notice that the phone company trucks/"employees" are spending a lot of time doing repair work near your home or office.
Telephone, cable, plumbing, or air conditioning repair people show up to do work when no one had called them.
Your door locks suddenly don't "feel right" or are broken.
Furniture has been moved slightly, and no one knows why.
Service or delivery trucks are often parked nearby with nobody in them.
Things "seem" to have been rummaged through.
Indoor pets are mysteriously let outside.