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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Indian Man Arrested After Attempting To Smuggle More Than 3000 Pounds Of Marijuana Into The United States

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced today that Gurpreet Singh, 30, a citizen of India, was arrested and charged with unlawfully importing and possessing with intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.

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 13, 2020, a commercial truck carrying 22 skids of peat moss and bearing Ontario, Canada license plates attempted to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry. During primary inspection, Singh told a CBP Officer that he was transporting the peat moss to Orange, VA. During the secondary exam, officers observed five pallets of peat moss packaged in large white plastic positioned at the rear of the trailer. Behind the pallets were 58 large cardboard boxes in the middle of the trailer. Behind the boxes were 14 additional pallets of peat moss. Inspection of the cardboard boxes revealed thousands of vacuum sealed bags containing suspected marijuana. The total weight of the suspected marijuana was approximately 3,346.35 pounds, with an approximate value of $5,000,000.

“For the second time in as many weeks, Customs and Border Protection Officers successfully interdicted a multi-million dollar load of marijuana being imported from Canada into our District,” stated U.S Attorney Kennedy. “Despite the current travel restrictions at our international crossings, the criminal element has not curtailed their efforts to profit from illicit drug trafficking.  Fortunately, our tremendous partners in law enforcement have remained vigilant in their efforts to ensure the integrity of our border and, in so doing, to keep our citizens safer and healthier.”

“As criminals are determined to exploit our vulnerabilities during this unprecedented time in our country’s history, CBP remains steadfast in our commitment to protect our Nation,” said Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy. “Our CBP officers have remained vigilant and focused, and their efforts have resulted in over 8,700 pounds of narcotics seized since March 21.”

“Large-scale marijuana trafficking is not an isolated crime,” said Kevin Kelly, HSI Buffalo Special Agent-in-Charge. “Smugglers are often connected to larger criminal syndicates who profit from a wide variety of crimes, and we must continue to dismantle all forms of their illicit activity.”

Singh made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and is being detained pending a detention hearing on June 17, 2020.

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.                               

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated June 16, 2020