U.S. authorities are continuing to investigate the attempted smuggling of a $20 million marijuana shipment from Canada to the U.S. after prosecutors dropped the charges against the trucker hauling the load.
U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. said in a statement that his office moved to have the criminal complaint dismissed to “allow the government additional time to conduct a full forensic examination of certain electronic evidence recovered during the seizure and to permit additional steps to be taken in this ongoing transnational investigation.”
Prabjot Nagra, 26, was returned to Canada on Thursday after a federal judge dismissed the two drug charges against him at the request of federal prosecutors. The criminal complaint was dropped without prejudice, which allows prosecutors to file charges in the future.
“It is expected that such further investigative efforts will shed additional light not only on Mr. Nagra’s knowledge regarding the contents of the sealed trailer he was hauling but also on the source and destination of the tons of marijuana it contained,” Kennedy said.
U.S. had weak case, trucker’s lawyer says
Nagra maintained he was unaware of the nearly 9,500-pound marijuana shipment discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers shortly after he arrived at the U.S. port of entry at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, late on June 25. He told investigators that he had picked up the sealed, loaded trailer from a trailer repair shop near Toronto.
Nagra’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Alexander Anzalone, told FreightWaves in an email that prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges was “definitely unusual” in this type of case but merited.
“I think it’s just an indication of how weak their case against Mr. Nagra was in the first place,” Anzalone said.
U.S. officials said the drug seizure was the largest at the Canadian border in the past five years.
Drug seizures from transport trucks have surged since the border closed for nonessential travel in March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.