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Trucker arrested after $10M cocaine bust at US-Canada border

Drugs discovered during secondary inspection of tractor-trailer coming from US

Canadian border officers say they found more than 100 packages of suspected cocaine concealed in a commercial load during an inspection of a tractor-trailer coming from the U.S. (Photo: Canada Border Services Agency)

A trucker was arrested after Canadian border officers found more than $10 million worth of suspected cocaine during an inspection of a tractor-trailer coming from the United States, authorities said on Thursday.

The unidentified male truck driver was arrested on Aug. 18 at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, a U.S.-Canada border crossing linking southern Ontario and western New York.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers referred the tractor-trailer for a secondary inspection after noticing “anomalies in the packaging of the shipment,” the CBSA said in a statement. 

The officers discovered 117 kilograms of suspected cocaine in 104 packages concealed in the commercial load. The CBSA estimated the drugs were worth about CA$14 million (US$10.6 million).

It is also among the largest drug seizures from a truck on the U.S.-Canada border since it closed for nonessential travel in March because of COVID-19. 

Other truckers arrested in spate of drug seizures at border during pandemic

Another trucker was arrested in April after Canadian border officers seized $2.3 million worth of suspected cocaine from a tractor-trailer at the Blue Water Bridge border crossing. Authorities also announced that seizure on Thursday.

“These cocaine seizures demonstrate that our officers remain vigilant and committed to ensuring that our borders are not used for illegal activity while travel restrictions at the border continue,” Christine Durocher, the CBSA’s regional director general for Southern Ontario, said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported a surge in drug seizures from commercial vehicles at ports of entry in New York and Michigan since the border closure. 

The bulk of the seizures have involved marijuana discovered in commercial loads coming from Canada. 

CBP officers seized $20 million worth of marijuana while inspecting a tractor-trailer at the Peace Bridge crossing in Buffalo, New York in June. The driver was arrested but was released after federal prosecutors dropped the charges without explanation.

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected].