Federal prosecutors in New York have announced that Customs and Border Protection officers discovered more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana on June 16 when they searched a semi-tractor trailer that was crossing into the United States from Canada. The truck was searched after it crossed the Peace Bridge near Buffalo. The discovery and seizure came less than two weeks after marijuana worth about $2.5 million was found in another commercial vehicle on the same bridge.
According to the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of New York, the 30-year-old man behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer told CBP officers working out of the Buffalo Field Office that his truck was loaded with peat moss and was headed to Virginia. However, when the vehicle was searched, officers allegedly found 58 large boxes in the cargo box that contained marijuana said to be worth about $5 million.
According to reports, the driver, an Indian national, was taken into custody without incident at the scene. He has been charged with possessing marijuana with the intent to import and distribute the drug. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years behind bars and a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment. Border traffic has been low since March 21 when travel restrictions were put into place, but that has not stopped Buffalo Field Office CBP officers from making 286 seizures of illegal drugs.
When drugs are discovered inside a commercial vehicle, experienced criminal defense attorneys may question whether or not the truck driver even knew they were there. This could be especially true if the drugs were packaged carefully and stored in a way that was designed to prevent detection. When prosecutors are unable to establish that truck drivers acted with mens rea, attorneys could argue that they should not be charged with drug crimes.