Officials working on the United States-Canada border late last month seized a massive shipment of marijuana that, at first blush, looked like an 8-year-old’s favorite breakfast.
U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced on Friday that “Ajaypal Dhillon, 22, of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and importing marijuana into the United States,” and that the charges “carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine.”
According to Friday’s announcement, the arrest and bust occurred on July 27 when Customs and Border Protection officers “encountered a semi-trailer operated by Dhillon at the primary inspection point” of the Peace Bridge Port of Entry, a bridge connecting Canada and the U.S. near Buffalo, New York.
Dhillon allegedly claimed that he was simply transporting some frozen foodstuffs.
“Dhillon presented customs documentation indicating a shipment of frozen waffles destined for a grocery store warehouse in Georgia. The shipper of the alleged waffles confirmed that the shipment was fraudulent, and the shipment was put on hold, while Dhillon was referred for a secondary inspection,” the announcement said. “During a physical exam of the cargo, boxes containing approximately 948 kilograms of a green leafy substance [or 2,089 pounds], consistent with that of marijuana, were located. In addition, 50 kilograms of ketamine were also discovered. Investigators identified Dhillon after CBP learned of five prior fraudulent shipments driven by Dhillon into the United States.”
The announcement said that “Dhillon appeared at a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and was detained.”
Recreational cannabis is legal in Canada and in an increasing number of states in the U.S., including New York.
But that doesn’t mean you should cross the border with weed –– even if it was legally obtained.
The Canada Border Services Agency issued a reminder of that in late June, just ahead of Canada Day and America’s Independence Day.
“Bringing cannabis across the border in any form, including oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada is a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada. A medical prescription from a doctor does not count as Health Canada authorization,” the agency said in a press release.
But despite those warnings, there are plenty who still try to smuggle.
That was the case of a 60-year-old American man, who was driving with around 400 pounds of cannabis in June when he was unwittingly led to a U.S.-Canada point of entry by his GPS.
“On May 2, 2023, an American driver was following GPS coordinates that were entered improperly. He took a wrong turn and ended up in the border line up at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Rainbow Bridge port of entry in Niagara Falls, Ontario. As the driver had no passport, he was referred for a secondary examination. During the inspection, the CBSA officers discovered 181 kg of cannabis (valued at between $362,000 CAD and $724,000 CAD) and over $600,000 US dollars (worth $816,167 CAD). The CBSA officers arrested the driver and seized the cash and cannabis. The case was then turned over to the RCMP Niagara on the Lake Federal Policing Border Integrity Team (RCMP BI),” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a press release.
“The RCMP BI Team examined the cash and cannabis. The items were located in various places in the car. The cannabis was vacuum packed and separated into numerous boxes. The cash was also found separated into bundles, and concealed in a safe, a suitcase, and a pelican case (hard-shelled lockable case).”