A former Sunday school teacher was strip-searched at Vancouver International Airport because border officers didn’t find any drugs on her person.
Jill Knapp, 39, was left traumatized after her run-in with the Canada Border Services Agency at the airport in January 2016.
She only recently decided to go public with her story after years of suffering with anxiety she claims was caused by the incident.
According to CBC, Knapp had been on her way home to Calgary after visiting her husband in Mexico City and was catching a connecting flight through Vancouver.
The former teacher claims she was red-flagged as she made her way through security at the airport and pulled aside by border officials.
‘It was traumatizing,’ Knapp told Go Public.
‘Within two minutes he called me a drug smuggler, mentioned a strip search, and even said that he was going to send me to the hospital for an X-ray [to look for drugs],’ says Knapp.
‘And that was before he even asked me any questions.’
Knapp said she had nothing in her luggage which could have been perceived as suspicious and does not have a criminal record.
She reportedly collected her luggage and was directed to ‘secondary inspection’, where one of the border guards ‘became instantly aggressive’.
‘Out of nowhere, he actually raised his voice at me and said, ‘I think you’re a drug smuggler,” says Knapp.
‘He said, ‘I deal with people like you every day.”
Knapp said the agent quizzed her on her family life but said he didn’t believe her before he confiscated her phone and demanded her password.
He then brought in a sniffer dog which searched her luggage and found nothing.
She was then reportedly placed in detention after initially refusing to undergo a strip search. She asked to speak to a lawyer and staff told her a call had been placed on her behalf, but legal aid never arrived.
Knapp spent 14 hours in detention and was only offered half a glass of water and no food. She also said CBSA staff denied her requests to go to the bathroom.
Two female officers entered the room and told her to strip from the waist up. Finding nothing, they ordered her to remove her clothing from the waist down.
‘They actually made me turn around, open up my butt cheeks and squat,’ says Knapp. ‘I was just in shock. I didn’t quite understand what it involved.’
Knapp was finally released, and her phone returned. She found half a dozen texts from her anxious husband wondering where she was.