A 45-year-old Canadian man got busted at the border last week hauling millions of dollars worth of marijuana.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection nabbed the suspect last Wednesday on Peace Bridge, a crossing that connects Buffalo, New York to Fort Erie, Ontario. The man was driving a commercial tractor trailer, and he informed the officers that he was delivering a shipment containing articles of cement.
After Customs and Border officers referred the vehicle for further inspection, they discovered a dozen wooden pallets containing a number of vacuum sealed packages of pot. The total amount of cargo: 1,342 kilograms—or about 2,959 pounds, for those of us here in the states.
According to the Customs and Border Protection, the street value of the marijuana runs at more than $6 million.
“Since travel restrictions began at the border, we have continued to see criminal organizations attempt to exploit perceived vulnerabilities, especially in the commercial environment,” said Port Director Jennifer De La O in a press release. “I am extremely proud of our CBP officers who have remained vigilant and enforcement focused during these unprecedented times. Their selfless efforts have yet again led to an impressive seizure of narcotics preventing these drugs from entering our communities.”
The Buffalo field office of the CBP has had a busy past several months intercepting such shipments on the border. According to the agency, the office has made “over 1,500 narcotic seizures totaling more than 23,500 pounds” from October 1, 2019 through July 23. The office “covers 16 ports of entry throughout New York State,” according to the CBP.
The Canadian outlet CBC said that the 45-year-old Canadian citizen “was not allowed to enter the U.S. and CBP says he was returned to Canada for further investigation.”
Trafficking Pot During A Pandemic
Transporting such a large volume of contraband would be a hairy proposition in normal times, but it’s even dicier now amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian government has imposed a tight restriction on “all discretionary travel at the Canada-U.S. border,” an order that was first instituted in late March and later extended until at least August 21.
A Canadian nurse moonlighting as a smuggler learned that the hard way in March.
Donning nursing scrubs and a lab coat, Terri Lynn Maxwell was attempting to enter the United States via the Detroit Ambassador Bridge when she was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border officers, who subsequently found more than 150 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle she was driving.
Maxwell, 48, is indeed a registered nurse Amherstburg, Ontario; she even had a placard displayed from the Canada Border Services Agency denoting her role as a first responder, which could have gained her entry under the circumstances of the pandemic.
Instead, Maxwell was hit with federal charges, and is now facing as many as 20 years in prison. The U.S. government did not take kindly of the ruse, blasting Maxwell for exploiting a public health crisis.
“At a time when health care professionals are working overtime to keep us safe, it’s really shameful that anyone would exploit their status as a nurse to smuggle any kind of drug into our country,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said at the time. “To stop the spread of the coronavirus, our Canadian border is open only for essential travel — and smuggling in marijuana simply isn’t essential.”