Kraig Jacobson, 26, a business major at Utah Valley University, is facing a six-month prison sentence for failing to declare a firearm at a border checkpoint between the United States and Canada. Jacobson and his brother Kevin, 19, were searched by Canadian officials on July 15 after attempting to visit Niagara Falls and had forgotten about the gun in the trunk of Kraig’s motorcycle.
Canadian federal law states that all firearms must be declared in writing at the border. Jacobson faces two charges: smuggling with malicious intent and making false statements to Canadian officials.
“I didn’t think it would be this big of a deal,” said his brother Kevin, a BYU student. “I was hoping [the Canadian government] would expedite everything because he’s not a citizen.”
Kraig and Kevin Jacobson began traveling across the U.S. on their motorcycles in early July, raising money and awareness for Relay For Life as part of the American Cancer Society. For safety, Kraig brought a handgun to protect against wild animals as they camped in the wilderness.
Along the trip, the two Utah natives stopped at landmarks, including Niagara Falls. After crossing the Canadian border, the two pulled up to the guard station and were asked if they possessed any weapons. Kraig said no.
Canadian officials asked both to pull off to the side of the road so they could search their motorcycles and personal items. After asking a second time if he had any firearms, Kraig remembered the gun in the trunk of his motorcycle and said yes.
Jacobson was taken into custody while Kevin waited overnight with guards at the border.
“The guards told me that he wouldn’t be in there very long,” Kevin said. “All the guards at the border said that they’d probably just confiscate the gun, kick us out and let us on our way, but that didn’t happen.”
Kraig Jacobson was held at the Niagara Detention Center for 18 days before being released on bail. Kevin stayed nearby, alternating between Canada and New York, visiting his brother in jail a maximum of twice a week.
A hearing for the case against Jacobson with the Canadian federal government is set for January 24, 2013. Kraig is not allowed to hold a job or leave the province of Ontario for the next five months.
His family is skeptical of the motives behind the federal charges.
“The best we can figure is that [the Canadian federal government] is trying to make an example out of him.” Kevin said. “He doesn’t have a criminal record. He’s never really done anything wrong.”
Jacobson was enrolled as a student for fall semester at Utah Valley University, but since the incident, withdrew from his classes. He was also in line for a promotion at work and had signed a new lease for an apartment in Provo to be closer to school.
Mitch Mallory, a friend of the Jacobson family, has set up an online petition for his release. The petition can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/canadian-government-release-kraig-jacobson.