U.S. Attorney James Kennedy and the Buffalo U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office have announced the largest marijuana seizure in Peace Bridge history.
Kennedy said a citizen of India has been arrested on charges of unlawfully importing and possessing with intent to distribute 1,000 or more kilograms of marijuana. Gurpreet Singh, 30, was arrested early Saturday morning at the Peace Bridge, driving a commercial truck with Ontario license plates carrying a load of peat moss.
Upon inspection, customs officials said they found thousands of vacuum-sealed bags containing suspected marijuana, weighing over 3,300 pounds with an approximate value of $5 million dollars. Singh was cooperative with investigators and there is no proof he knew what was in the truck, defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz said.
A detention hearing for Singh is scheduled for Wednesday. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.
It was the second seizure of a multimillion-dollar marijuana shipment by customs officials in the region in two weeks. On June 5, more than $2 million worth of marijuana was seized after it came over from Canada in a truck.
The Buffalo customs office has made more than 280 drug confiscations this year, a 4000% increase over seizures at this time in 2019. Customs and Border Protection Field Office Director Rose Brophy said officers have seized more than 8,700 pounds of narcotics at the crossing since March 21.
Cross-border travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed commerce across national borders. The field office said criminals may be taking advantage of the unprecedented times to illegally transport drugs.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.