U.S. border officers seized a reported $6 million worth of marijuana from a tractor-trailer hauling cement from Canada, authorities said Friday.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers reportedly discovered the marijuana in the trailer during an inspection after the truck attempted to enter the U.S. via the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York.
The 45-year-old Canadian truck driver told officers that he believed he was hauling cement, the CBP said. Instead, the officers found 12 wooden palates containing vacuum-sealed pouches of what was identified as nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana.
The trucker was denied entry into the U.S but allowed to return to Canada pending an investigation, the CBP said.
Fourth major marijuana bust at border crossing since June
The incident marked the fourth major marijuana seizure involving a Canadian truck coming via the Peace Bridge since June. It also came amid a surge of drug seizures by U.S. authorities since the U.S.-Canada border closed for nonessential travel because of COVID-19 in March.
But the driver’s quick release marked a departure from the prior cases, including the record $20 million marijuana seizure.
U.S. investigators quickly moved to charge the three drivers in the previous marijuana seizures. However, federal prosecutors dropped the charges against the driver accused of attempting to smuggle $20 million worth of marijuana.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not explain the driver’s release.
Truckers hauling trailers found with drugs and other contraband at the U.S. border do not always face criminal charges.
Susan Kohn Ross, a Los Angeles-based trade and compliance lawyer, told FreightWaves that it isn’t unusual for a cross-border trucker to be unaware of drugs in a trailer, particularly if it has a seal.
“It’s a common problem,” Ross said. “It happens a lot on the southern border.”