On July 27, US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers intercepted a shipment of cannabis and ketamine at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry between Ontario and upstate New York.
In a press release dated August 4, a US Attorney announced that Ajaypal Dhillon, 22, of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, had been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of cannabis and importing cannabis into the United States. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine.
Dhillon is said to have presented customs officials at the border crossing with documents indicating a shipment of frozen waffles destined for a grocery store warehouse in Georgia, but the issuer of the document told officers it was fraudulent.
Upon a secondary inspection, CBP officers discovered boxes within the truck that contained approximately 948 kilograms of a “green leafy substance, consistent with that of marijuana”. In addition, 50 kilograms of ketamine were also discovered. Investigators also identified Dhillon after CBP learned of five prior fraudulent shipments driven by Dhillon into the United States.
Dhillon appeared at a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and was detained.
US seizures of Canadian cannabis are not uncommon, especially at the Peace Bridge. Large seizures increased significantly while the US/Canadian border was closed to non-essential traffic during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there were around 135,000 kg seized at this border in the fiscal years of 2020 and 2021, only 23,000 kilograms were seized in 2022, and about 13,000 so far for the fiscal year 2023 (beginning October 2022), with nearly 10,000 kg of that being seized in March, April and May 2023.
Most recently, in July, an Ontario man pleaded guilty to smuggling cannabis into US by helicopter.