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Press Release

Seventy-Seven Year Old Canadian Man Arrested, Charged With Possession And Importation Of Marijuana

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Nerio Frank Fogazzi, 77, of Canada, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute and distributing marijuana, and importing marijuana from Canada into the United States. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmanuel O. Ulubiyo, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on May 21, 2018, at approximately 10:00 p.m., the defendant attempted to enter the United States from Canada at the Peace Bridge port of entry. During primary inspection, Fogazzi, a Canadian Citizen, told the primary Customs and Border Protection Officer that he was coming to the United States to go shopping but could not provide the Officer with an intended shopping destination.

When asked if he was bringing anything into the United States and if he had anything to declare, the defendant said he did not. The officer then asked Fogazzi to unlock the trunk of his vehicle for inspection. The officer opened the trunk and observed an empty black hockey bag laying on top of two other black hockey bags that appeared full. The officer also detected the odor of marijuana emanating from the trunk. The officer then unzipped one of the full hockey bags and observed suspected marijuana inside clear vacuum sealed plastic bags. The defendant was escorted to the security office. Fogazzi’s vehicle was also taken to the secondary area for further inspection during which officers discovered additional suspected marijuana in a second hockey bag as well as in the spare-tire cavity under the hockey bags in the trunk. A total of 96 packages of suspected marijuana, weighing a total of over 104 lbs., were seized.

“Although 77-year-old Canadians who come to the United States to play hockey will be welcomed—and likely even celebrated—here,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy, “septuagenarians who use hockey bags to smuggle marijuana into our country will not be given the same reception. Instead, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This is an excellent seizure that demonstrates our officers dedication to enforcing the CBP mission and protecting the public from illegal narcotics,” said Acting Port Director Cary Frieling. “Their vigilance and our excellent working relationship with our partners at Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office prevented these narcotics from entering our country and ensured that the violator will face justice.”

“HSI will continue working with our partners at CBP to ensure that those engaged in smuggling large quantities of illegal drugs into the United States are brought to justice,” said Kevin Kelly, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI Buffalo. “HSI has the capability to leverage significant seizures into wider investigations that attack every level of a drug smuggling organization, both foreign and domestic.”

The defendant made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder and was released on conditions.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, 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.

Updated June 4, 2018