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High Falls: Niagara Region Becomes Hotspot for US-Canada Border Marijuana Smuggling

© AP Photo / Marcio Jose SanchezMarijuana plants on display
Marijuana plants on display - Sputnik International
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Travel across the US-Canada border is all but shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped Mary Jane from entering the US in unprecedented volumes. In the last month alone, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has seized several tons of marijuana being smuggled near the Niagara Falls region between Ontario and New York.

Since May 1, thousands of pounds of marijana have been seized as smugglers attempted to bring them across the border from Canada into the United States. The Peace Bridge, which crosses from Ontario to New York state about 20 miles upriver from Niagara Falls, has proven an especially popular spot to attempt such operations.

“All told, we’re talking - in the past three weeks - over 7 tons of marijuana seized at our border, which has a street value in excess of $30 million dollars,” US Attorney for the Western District of New York J.P. Kennedy told the Washington Examiner on Monday. “These are more akin to what they’re used to seeing on the Southwest border.”

That’s a big pot of, well, pot.

The biggest bust came on June 25, when 55 wooden pallet boxes in the back of an 18-wheeler were found to have some $27 million, or 9,259 pounds, of vacuum-sealed marijuana tucked inside them, according to Niagara Falls Review.

The publication noted that between October 1, 2019, and June 27, 2020, border officials had seized more than 700 narcotics shipments, an increase of more than 2,000% from the same time last year.

In another bust on June 5, CBP found 1,785 pounds of marijuana inside a truck, with an estimated street value of $2.5 million, according to the agency.

According to Kennedy, the bigger busts are due to a mixture of saturated markets in Canada, which legalized recreational use of the drug in 2018, and a typically porous border closed to all non-essential traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The producer overproduced the marijuana that can be legally distributed,” Kennedy told the Examiner, noting the lack of demand north of the border and the high-powered THC content of the weed. “So they can go to the illegal channels.”

Ontario police also made a big bust in the region last month when an illegal growing operation was discovered in St. Catharines, a city just west of Niagara Falls. According to the CBC, the police arrested 11 people and seized 17,200 plants, together estimated to be worth $34 million.

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