When Prabjot Nagra tried to drive a commercial truck across the Peace Bridge at the end of June with 9,500 pounds of weed in vacuum-sealed bags, the border X-ray scan machine went crazy, prompting U.S. Customs and Border guards to, well, take notice.
The 5-ton bust was the largest seizure to date of marijuana attempting to make it across the U.S.-Canada border, which is the longest international border in the world between two countries – 5,525 miles.
Nagra, the driver of the truck and a citizen of India, was held pending a detention hearing.
However, for reasons yet to be fully explained, charges against Nagra, 26, have been dismissed without prejudice, “to allow the government additional time to conduct a full forensic examination of electronic evidence and to permit additional steps to be taken in the ongoing transnational investigation.”
In a statement to Investigative Post, U.S. Attorney James Kennedy, Jr. said the government needed more time to investigate exactly what Nagra knew about the contents of the trailer, as well as the source and destination of the marijuana.
Street value of Nagra’s haul was estimated at about $20 million and it was not the first smuggling caper of its kind this summer. Earlier in June, two other similar busts took place.
Another truck driver, Gurpreet Singh, 30, also a citizen of India, was arrested at the Peace Bridge when border guards seized 3,346 pounds of weed hidden in a load of peat moss.
Then on June 5, patrol officers reported having confiscated 1,800 pounds of marijuana from a commercial truck, again crossing into the U.S. on the Peace Bridge and again driven by an Indian national. The agents said the weed was stored in crates of coffee grounds, which they discovered with a shipment of coffee makers in a routine truck inspection.
The Peace Bridge, 3580-foot long steel structure, located near the center of downtown Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario, is one of four vehicular toll crossings over the Niagara River in the region.
Blame it on the Coronavirus
U.S. Customs said there’s been an increase in cannabis as well as drug seizures in the Buffalo and Peace Bridge area since restrictions on US-Canada cross-border travel went into effect on March 21 due to the coronavirus.
The Peace Bridge customs’ field office, which covers 16 ports of entry throughout New York State, has made more than 225 narcotic seizures, an increase of almost 1,600 percent over the same time period last year, noted Truckers News.