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HomeBusinessDeveloping story: Immigration raid at Hastings Racecourse

Developing story: Immigration raid at Hastings Racecourse


Bob Mackin (Updated Aug. 20 and Aug. 21)

More than two dozen Canada Border Services Agency and Gaming Policy and Enforcement officers descended upon Hastings Racecourse and arrested at least seven track workers on Aug. 19.

Hastings Racecourse’s tote board awaits connection to a new system (Mackin)

A source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said uniformed officers “swarmed onto the backstretch” before 6:30 a.m. They were looking for more than two dozen people to arrest, but only nabbed five grooms at the time. Grooms clean, brush and feed racehorses, prepare them for races and care for them afterward.

Another source who works at the track told that 30 were arrested, but 13 were not released. The Immigration and Refugee Board had yet to receive any referrals for detention reviews from CBSA related to the raid. On Aug. 21, the Immigration and Refugee Board released a list of hearings for seven people: Adan Cruz Villegas; Javier Olade Angel; Brandon Daniel Carrion Gomez; Oscar Miguel Navarro Caravantes; Juan Daniel Bedolla Orozco; Oscar David Tapia Fernandez; and Jose De Jesus Gonzalez Vazquez. The hearings in Vancouver will determine whether their detention is justified. 

The source described the action as a disruptive “U.S. style raid” at a time of day when horses and jockeys were practising. They were handcuffed in front of their co-workers. The officers had a map of where to find each one of the targets, some of whom live in on track accommodation, but were all apparently GPEB registered.

The grooms arrested are believed to be all Latino, but none employed by Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which leases the facility from City of Vancouver. Great Canadian said it had no further information and referred reporters to CBSA.

CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy would not answer questions about the number of arrests, charges or where the persons in custody are being held. “As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to provide any further details at this time,” Purdy wrote.

GPEB’s director of racing Bill McNeill referred questions to the Attorney-General’s press office, which referred questions to CBSA. GPEB “has worked co-operatively with the CBSA in the course of their investigation and will continue to do so as needed.”

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