(photo @ culturecheesemag)
Niagara Falls, Ontario
A little over a month ago, the United States Department of Homeland Security arrested Constable Geoffrey Purdie of the Niagra Regional Police. His alleged crime: Conspiring to smuggle more than half a million dollars worth of anabolic steroids across the United States border into his home country of Canada.
As the joint task force of Canadian and U.S. agents continued their investigation, they began to wonder what else might be getting smuggled across the border illegally by crooked Canadian cops. It turns out that the answer was sweet, sweet New York cheese.
Apparently, Canada's protective dairy laws make cheese much more expensive in their country. Protective tariffs can cause imported cheese to cost double or even triple the price of dairy products that are obtained within the country's borders.
Combine that with Canada's production quotas that are specifically set to economically benefit the nation's dairy farmers, and cheese can get pretty expensive.
Along with giving Canada's cow population a severe superiority complex.
This can make can things pretty tough on pizzerias that use large quantities of cheese on a daily basis to keep their businesses running. That's where the alleged dirty police officers come in, smuggling the product across the border without going through customs and selling it at a steep discount...while also turning an impressive profit for themselves.
Since cheese from the United States costs about a third of what it does in Canada, the implicated officers were able to pack their cars with "bricks" of the dairy product, cross the border, and move it on the cheese black market at a $1,000-$2,000 profit.
Mario Sebastanio is the owner of Super Mario's Pizza in Port Colborne. In an interview with CBC News, he claimed that he was approached two years ago by a man offering to sell him a large amount of his business' life blood at a greatly discounted price; they even let him try a sample to make sure that the product was up to snuff.
They also tried to offer Sebastanio the hard stuff, but he just wasn't
prepared to risk becoming helplessly addicted to something so powerful.
Even though he decided not to join their illegal cheese smuggling ring, Sebastanio admitted that he was impressed with the operation, stating:
"He was gonna sell me a case for 150 bucks; normally it's $240. He can supply whatever I want. If I want five to six cases a week, he’d give me five to six cases because he can bring it to this side here, no problem."
Albert Zapatelli, who runs Zappi's Pizza (which also apparently specializes in stereotypical pizzeria names), said he had also been approached by numerous sellers offering discounted cheese to his business. He held firm, however, feeling that it wasn't right to have such an illegal competitive advantage.
Brandon Elms of Volcano Pizzarea in Niagra Falls also runs a clean business, emphatically stating "We get all all our stuff legit."
For now, the Niagara Regional Police aren't talking. NRP spokesman Constable Derek Watson said the force cannot “deny or confirm allegations of any ongoing investigation.” It looks like Internal Affairs could be in for a very long and contested investigation.
A new insult for police that turn in other
officers will need to be invented...for obvious reasons.