June 25, $20m in marijuana have been seized at the Canada-U.S. border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in Buffalo, New York. The truck driver, a 26-year-old man, was immediately arrested. He was carrying almost five tons of marijuana, which is valued at around $20m.
This arrest is the largest such event at the Canada-U.S. border in the last five years.
Routine Inspection Turned into a Massive Bust
CBP officers found 9,472 pounds of marijuana during a routine inspection of the tractor-trailer. The vehicle was operated by the 26-year-old Prabjot Nagra. The inspection took place at the Peace Bridge Cargo Facility. The paperwork stated the truck is transporting storage containers. However, during a routine inspection, there were apparent anomalies which prompted a more thorough search.
In an official statement, Federal prosecutors stated that Prabjot Nagra, a citizen of India possessing a permanent Canadian residency, was operating a tractor-trailer loaded with 55 wooden pallet boxes. The boxes contained vacuum-sealed marijuana packages.
Prabjot Nagra was immediately charged with possession and intent of distribution of 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Nagra was also charged with attempted importation of marijuana into the United States.
These charges carry a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment should Nagra be convicted.
Drug Seizure Rates Are on the Rise at the Northern Borders
This arrest is one in a list of several in the past few weeks. Drug seizure rates have drastically increased at the Northern borders in Detroit and New York since the COVID-19 pandemic. The borders were closed for non-essential travel back in March 2020, following the measures to battle the pandemic’s spread.
The reason for the increase in seizures is speculated to have come as a result of the reduction of non-commercial traffic in the states. With this reduction, the percentage of inspected vehicles out of all transiting the border increased.
However, CBP has stated that this is not the case, as they are continuously on the lookout for smugglers. They claim that they do not know what is causing the increase. A CBD spokesperson has announced for FreightWaves that there has been a reduction in small-time smuggling, or “person (who) has a pound or a couple of pounds of marijuana,” because of the traffic restrictions.
This arrest is the third large bust in as many weeks at the international border, said U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy.