UVU student stuck in Canada for 'honest mistake' at border
A 26-year-old Alpine man planned on celebrating his birthday raising money for cancer while riding his Kawasaki Maxium 750 on the open range with his brother instead he is cooped up in Canada awaiting a jury trial in 2013.
Kraig Jacobson and his brother Kevin were 10 days into their six-week nationwide motorcycle adventure and fundraiser for the American Cancer Society when they crossed a bridge and entered Canada. The duo were camping in the wilderness at many stops, so Jacobson brought a handgun for protection from bears and other wildlife.
Jacobson was detained at the border and asked if he had any items to declare, his father, Gordon Jacobson, told The Salt Lake Tribune Saturday. He told the first officer no, but the officer told him to park his bike to the side, and as a second officer came Jacobson disclosed he had a handgun in a locked trunk behind his seat before they began a search.
"He had been riding all day in the heat, and he was kind of dehydrated and stressed out and said no," Gordon Jacobson said adding that later his son "came to his senses" and told the second officer, but by then, "It was too late."
Jacobson, a Utah Valley University business major, was arrested on the spot, and his family initially thought what they called an honest mistake would just turn into a fine and a deportation, but it was far worse.
An initial gun charge was dropped, but he is still being charged with smuggling with malicious intent and lying to a border official. The two charges together carry a four- to six-month prison term.
"Kraig recognizes his mistake," his father said, and knows he needs to pay the consequence but doesn't think the penalty should be so stiff.
"It seems to me a year out of his life is a little ridiculous," he said. "There is no tolerance on the Canadian side for making an honest mistake. They will throw the book at you."
Gordon Jacobson said he first found out about his son's predicament from family members when Kraig's brother posted on Facebook that his brother was in a Canadian jail.
Jacobson spent July 25 to Aug. 3 inside the Niagara Detention Centre on an immigration hold, according to Ontario Canada Sgt. Dyson. It is a jail where hardened criminals are booked in the same facility as with those dealing with immigration issues.
When Jacobson was released on bail, he found some friends of the family to stay with, but he can't leave the province until after his jury trial in January 2013.
"He is stuck in a country where he can't leave and can't hold a job," Gordon Jacobson said.
In response, one of Kraig's friends set up a petition website asking for prosecutors to release him.
His father doesn't know if it will help Kraig's situation, but at least it may help with awareness of the issues that arise with taking handguns across the border.
"It may not change Kraig's outlook, but I would I like it to help solve problems for others traveling to Canada."
Kraig Jacobson's 27th birthday is Aug. 22, but instead of spending it with family, he is stuck in Canada, not knowing exactly when he will be home.
As his father tried to fight back tears, his voice cracked as he said "it is tough" not having his son near.
"We try to keep our game faces on, but it is hard not having him around."
Friends and family encourage others to sign the petition