U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Peace Bridge Cargo Facility made a Northern Border record seizure of 9,472 pounds of marijuana that was discovered within a commercial shipment manifested as storage containers.
On June 25, CBP officers referred a tractor trailer being driven by a 26-year-old male who is a citizen of India and Canadian Permanent Resident. The driver presented a manifest indicating the trailer contained storage containers. During a Non-Intrusive Inspection scan of the commercial truck, CBP officers noticed anomalies within the storage bins, performed a tailgate exam and discovered vacuumed sealed packages with what appeared to be marijuana.
A complete physical exam revealed 55 wooden pallet boxes that contained vacuum sealed packages of marijuana. In total, officers seized 9,472 pounds of marijuana worth more than $20 million dollars in estimated street value. This is the largest narcotics seizure recorded on the northern border and ranks 23rd in the United States, for a period covering the last 5-years.
“This was an excellent job by our officers from start to finish,” said Port Director Jennifer De La O. “From recognizing a shipment that needed further screening, to the identification of the anomaly during the secondary scan, to the coordination with our partners at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) our officers are committed to intercepting these illicit drugs from being smuggled in.”
Federal prosecution of the driver was accepted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and he was subsequently charged by a criminal complaint with possessing with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and importation of marijuana into the United States.
“For the third time in as many weeks, the diligence of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers has resulted in the seizure of literally tons of illegal controlled substances destined for our country,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “In just three weeks, CBP Officers have prevented thousands of pounds of illicit drugs, valued at nearly $30,000,000, from entering our country. We will remain vigilant to protect our border from those who seek to profit from the importation of these illegal substances, as they not only fuel the violent drug trafficking organizations who distribute them but jeopardize the health and well-being of those, including minors, who use them. Because the health, safety, and security of every American matters, so too do our borders.”
“The resurgence of large-scale illicit marijuana seizures is alarming and brazen given the public health crisis,” said Kevin Kelly HSI special agent in charge. “HSI and CBP will always work together to thwart and deter those criminal organizations that attempt to exploit our borders.”
This seizure adds to the already huge increase in drug seizures within the Buffalo Field Office. From October 1, 2019 through June 27, 2020, ports within the Buffalo Field Office, which covers 16 ports of entry throughout New York State, have made over 700 narcotic seizures totaling more than 20,180 pounds – an increase of approximately 2,000% from fiscal year 2019 during the same time period.
“The work of the officers has been incredible and their dedication to CBP’s enforcement mission is evident in these recent large-load narcotics seizures,” said Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy. “Criminal organizations are not going to stop just because the border has restricted travel and CBP officers continue to work and ensure our borer is secure.”