BUFFALO, NEW YORK – June 2, 2018 (LSN) On May 21 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Peace Bridge seized over 104 pounds of alleged marijuana with an estimated street value of just over $300,000.
“This is an excellent seizure that demonstrates our officers’ dedication to enforcing the CBP mission and protecting the public from illegal narcotics,” said 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.”
Around 10 a.m., CBP officers encountered Nereo Fogazzi, a 77-year-old male, citizen of Canada, applying for admission to the U.S. at the Peace Bridge. During the primary inspection, the officer discovered vacuum-sealed bags containing the alleged marijuana. Secondary examination of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of additional vacuum-sealed bags inside the spare tire wheel well in the trunk. The contents of the bags field-tested positive for the properties of marijuana. A total of 96 bags weighing just over 104 pounds were removed from the vehicle.
The alleged marijuana and vehicle were seized and Fogazzi was arrested and turned over to agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
“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.”
Fogazzi 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. Fogazzi was released with conditions.
“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.”
In fiscal year 2017, officers in the Buffalo Field Office made 640 narcotic seizures.
CBP Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers’ primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the U.S., while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the U.S. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.
In January 2006, DHS adopted the BEST initiative as a DHS task force in order to leverage federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement and intelligence resources in an effort to identify, disrupt and dismantle organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities along the U.S. borders and threaten the overall safety and security of the American public. BEST is designed to increase information sharing and collaboration among the participating agencies, focusing toward the identification, prioritization and investigation of emerging or existing threats.