On Monday, December 28, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized a shipment containing more than 1,400 pounds (635kg) of cannabis at the Québec/Vermont border.
Such seizures at the Canada and US border have increased significantly in the past year, especially since its closing to all but essential traffic on March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June of this year, US officials seized a record $20 million worth of cannabis at the Ontario border. The majority of these seizures have been at the Peace Bridge connecting New York and Ontario.
The value of the cannabis in this most recent seizure was estimated at just over $3 million and is the largest seizure by US CBP officers in New England in recent years.
Although cannabis is legal in Canada as well as the state of Vermont, it remains illegal under United States federal law. Export from Canada’s legal market is also highly regulated.
American officials have previously noted an increase in large drug seizures at the Canadian border, not only for cannabis. From October 1, 2019 through June 27, 2020, ports within the Buffalo Field Office alone, which covers 16 ports of entry throughout New York State, have made over 700 narcotic seizures totalling more than nearly 9,153kg (over 20,000 lbs). US officials say this is an increase of approximately 2,000% from fiscal year 2019 during the same time period.
It’s unknown if the increases in cannabis seizures at the American and Canadian border is due to increased scrutiny given the limited amount of cross-border traffic during the pandemic, the increase of pressure on the black market in Canada, more criminal organizations taking advantage of aspects of Canada’s cannabis industry, or other factors.
“Our team of officers remains focused on their mission throughout the ongoing travel restrictions at the border,” said Eileen Bigelow, Area Port Director for the Area Port of St. Albans. “We know that smuggling organizations will try to exploit perceived opportunities but our officers continue to demonstrate their dedication to stopping illegal activity.”
Featured image via Wiki Commons