GTA mom gets 10 years in prison for smuggling handguns across the border

A 54-year-old single mother caught crossing the Canada-US border with 25 guns concealed in the gas tank of her rental vehicle was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday.

After a tearful apology to family and friends, Rima Mansour was led out of a downtown Toronto courtroom in handcuffs after Superior Court Judge Maureen Forestell said she was imposing the « significant » punishment intended to deter others from what she described as « an exceptionally serious offence ». .”

“Armed violence is fueled by the importation and distribution of firearms. These offenses are not victimless offences. Every year there are hundreds of shootings in this town. Every year people are injured and die because of gun violence,” Forestell said.

« Our community as a whole falls victim to this type of crime because we lose our sense of security. »

On October 31, 2018, Mansour crossed the Peace Bridge from Buffalo, NY, to Fort Erie, Ont., with 25 handguns and an extended magazine in the gas tank of a Nissan Rogue she had rented in the Greater Toronto. Each weapon was individually shrink-wrapped. The tools used to access the gas tank were on the floor of the vehicle with the float used to show how much gas was left inside.

Mansour tricked border officials into telling them she was visiting family in New York. She had actually visited the Tampa, Florida home of a woman who had previously purchased a firearm that had been doctored and recovered 12 days earlier by the Toronto Gun Enforcement Unit.

Mansour pleaded not guilty, but did not dispute the facts of the case.

Crown attorney Erin Pancer and defense attorney Eric Neubauer have jointly recommended that the Toronto resident receive a sentence of 10 years less five years for the time she served in custody, including house arrest , before being found guilty this summer. This credit also took into account the harsh conditions of his incarceration during the pandemic.

Mansour had no criminal record, worked most of her adult life, raised three boys on her own and participated in rehabilitation programs, the court heard.

In his written documents, Neubaurer described Mansour as a « mule » in an arms trafficking ring. Two other men have already been convicted for their role in the scheme.

In a letter filed with the court, Mansour suggested she did not know she was smuggling a small arsenal of firearms into the gas tank of her vehicle and said she regretted « to have been involved with this group of people ».

Describing her arrest as the start of « my nightmare », Mansour detailed the « hardships and embarrassments » she faced in detention at the Vanier Center for Women and described how her relationship with her youngest son suffered.

« My whole family has been affected by this traumatic event that happened to me, » she wrote.

Prosecutor Pancer took offense that Mansour feigned ignorance of the smuggling scheme, “rather than taking responsibility for his actions.”

Pancer noted that the guns filled up so much space in the tank that it could only hold a quarter of a tank of gas. Because the gas gauge was off, « Mansour should have been careful how many miles she had driven herself in order to prevent the vehicle from running out of gas, » Pancer wrote.

Although the court heard no evidence about what Mansour could earn, Pancer noted that an « inference » can be drawn that she committed the offense because she needed the income to support herself. his family. Illegal firearms purchased for a few hundred dollars south of the border are worth significantly more on the black market, suggesting she « would have received significant compensation for her participation. »

Nonetheless, by not insisting on a trial, Mansour saved the court time and resources, which warranted a reduced sentence, the prosecutor told the judge on Wednesday.

Neubauer also told the court that his client’s health deteriorated significantly while in custody.

The judge agreed that a 10-year sentence can achieve the « primary purposes of sentencing » for importing firearms, which are deterrence and denunciation.

“I believe Ms Mansour was specifically discouraged by her time in police custody and the impact on her health and her family,” the judge said. At the same time, the penalty is severe enough to send the message that those caught smuggling firearms into Canada are considering a prison sentence.

Forestell accepted Neubauer’s request to recommend that Mansour serve the remainder of her sentence in a minimum-security facility and be a good candidate for early parole.


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