Camouflaged Canadian Charged with Smuggling 182 Pounds of Prescription Drugs Across Northern Border
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced today that a Cedrick Bourgault-Morin, 21, of Quebec, Canada has been charged by a criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute 182 pounds of Aprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, a schedule IV controlled substance.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, at approximately 1:00 am on January 13, 2016, the Swanton Sector Communications Center of U.S. Customs and Border Protection received notification of activity on the railroad tracks which lead from the international border into the village of North Troy. This area is known to be used by smuggling organizations to smuggle contraband into the United States. Three United States Border Patrol agents responded to the area. One agent tracked footprints in the snow from the border, while two others positioned themselves south of the suspected smuggler. The southern agents observed Bourgault-Morin wearing white camouflage clothing, and walking on the tracks. Bourgault-Morin was pulling a sled behind him, loaded with a large object wrapped in white camouflage. As Bourgault-Morin began to conceal the sled and its contents with snow, all three agents approached him, apprehended him, and seized the contents of the sled. The agents discovered a large duffle bag on the sled. Upon further inspection at the Newport Station, the agents discovered the duffle to contain approximately 300 vacuum-sealed plastic bags containing pills. The pills bear markings consistent with those used to identify Xanax, which is a brand name for Aprazolam. Aprazolam is a benzodiazepine class of psychoactive drug typically prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication. The 300 bags of pills weighed approximately 182 pounds, and have a value of approximately $1.6 million.
If convicted, Bourgault-Morin faces a maximum of five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.
“This is a great example of some of the training and unique skills our agents use to perform their border security mission,” said U.S. Border Patrol Agent-in-Charge Fernando Beltran. “I commend these agents for their continued vigilance in tracking criminals, and for seizing harmful drugs before they get into our communities.”
United States Attorney Eric S. Miller commended the investigative efforts of the United States Border Patrol.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt. Bourgault-Morin is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Vermont.