Arshdeep Singh, 21, a citizen of India, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute and importation of marijuana. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in the early morning hours of June 5, 2020, a commercial truck carrying coffee makers and bearing Prince Edward Island, Canada license plates, attempted to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry. The commercial truck was referred to the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System for a non-intrusive x-ray exam, which showed inconsistencies between the cargo in the nose of the trailer and that of the rest of the load. Officers also observed that the trailer did not have a commercial seal securing the back doors. As a result, it was referred to the Peace Bridge warehouse loading dock for a physical exam. During the initial physical exam, officers offloaded the properly identified coffee makers. They also located four skids containing seven crates that differed from the rest of the load. Inspection of the crates revealed coffee grounds. Secreted under the coffee grounds were vacuum sealed bags containing a green leafy substance. Approximately 1,608 vacuum sealed bundles of suspected marijuana, weighing nearly 1,800 lbs., were removed from the original shipment containers, with an approximate value of $2,500,000.
“Recent events have created unique challenges for our Office and our partners in law enforcement as we work together to keep our communities and our Nation safe and secure,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “While the COVID-19 response may have slowed commerce across our Nation’s borders, this arrest proves not only that criminals persist in their efforts to break the law but that law enforcement remains vigilant in its effort to uphold it.”
“This was an excellent job by our officers from start to finish,” said Port Director Jennifer De La O. “From recognizing a shipment that needed further screening, to the identification of the anomaly during the secondary scan, to the coordination with our partners at HSI, our officers are committed to intercepting these illicit drugs from being smuggled in.”
“It is unfortunate that during a global health crisis, criminals are trying to exploit a tense situation for their own benefit,” said CBP Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy. “The work of the officers has been incredible and their dedication to CBP’s enforcement mission is evident in these recent large load narcotics seizures.”
Singh made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and is being detained.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by Customs and Border Protection, under the direction Rose Brophy, Director of Field Operations, and Homeland Security Investigations – Border Enforcement Security Team, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.