CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Prabjot Nagra, 26, a citizen of India, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possessing with the intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana and importation of marijuana into the United States. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Misha A. Coulson, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant attempted to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge Port on Entry just before midnight on June 25, 2020. Nagra was driving a commercial truck with Ontario, Canada license plates. According to an electronic manifest, the truck was carrying a shipment of 55 storage containers.
The commercial truck was referred to the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System for a non-intrusive x-ray exam. The x-ray showed inconsistencies of the cargo within the entire trailer. As a result, the truck was referred to the Peace Bridge warehouse loading dock for physical examination. During the physical exam of the crates, Customs and Border Protection Officers recovered multiple packages of vacuum sealed bags containing a green leafy substance, which field tested positive for the presence of marijuana. Approximately 8,320 vacuum sealed packages of suspected marijuana weighing approximately 9,472 pounds were removed from the original shipment containers. The marijuana is valued at approximately $20,000,000. This represents the largest marijuana seizure ever in the Western District, and one of the largest—if not the largest—ever at the northern border.
“For the third time in as many weeks, the diligence of Customs and Border Protection Officers has resulted in the seizure of literally tons of illegal controlled substances destined for our country,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “In just three weeks, CBP Officers have prevented thousands of pounds of illicit drugs, valued at nearly $30,000,000, from entering our country. We will remain vigilant to protect our border from those who seek to profit from the importation of these illegal substances, as they not only fuel the violent drug trafficking organizations who distribute them but jeopardize the health and well-being of those, including minors, who use them. Because the health, safety, and security of every American matters, so too do our borders.”
“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 Homeland Security Investigations, our officers are committed to intercepting these illicit drugs from being smuggled in.”
“The resurgence of large-scale illicit marijuana seizures is alarming and brazen given the public health crisis,” said Kevin Kelly, HSI Special Agent-in-Charge. “HSI and CBP will always work together to thwart and deter those criminal organizations that attempt to exploit our borders.”
“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,” said Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy. “Criminal organizations are not going to stop just because the border has restricted travel and CBP officers continue to work and ensure our borer is secure.”
The defendant was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and is being held pending a detention hearing on July 1, 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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