Niagara Gazette — Agents from the Canada Border Services Agency have announced multiple seizures of drugs and guns at three Western New York border crossings.
Customs inspectors said they recovered more than 160 pounds of pot during an investigation at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ont. on March 20.
A commercial vehicle was crossing the bridge and claimed to have a cargo of okra. During a secondary examination of the truck, agents found 61vacuum-sealed packages containing marijuana.
Okra, which is a leafy green and edible plant, bears some resemblance to marijuana.
"Our officers are the first line of defense in protecting Canadians and keeping our communities safe from criminal activity associated with the smuggling of illegal drugs," said Rick Comerford, regional director general, Canadian Border Services Agency, Southern Ontario Region.
The driver of the truck was arrested and both he and the drugs were turned over to investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Border Services agents also arrested three people, during the month of March, for trying to smuggle handguns into Canada.
On March 10, Mishell McPherson, 47, of Minnesota, was charged after he crossed the Rainbow Bridge and was referred for a secondary examination. During that examination, border services officers discovered an undeclared semi-automatic pistol and 92 rounds of ammunition in the rear of McPherson's vehicle.
A day later, a secondary examination at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge led border services agents to discover an undeclared semi-automatic pistol in the back seat area of a pick-up truck. Olexandr Yeremenko, 41, of Georgia, was charged in that incident.
McPherson and Yeremenko were each charged under the Canadian Customs Act with making false and deceptive statements, evading compliance and smuggling.
On March 24, agents arrested a truck driver at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge after a secondary examination of his truck led to the seizure of an undeclared handgun.
The trucker, Tim Covert, 34, of Florida, pleaded guilty on Monday to a charge under the Canadian Customs Act of making false and deceptive statements and evading compliance. No information about his potential sentence was available.Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252.