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US Customs agents in Michigan report substantial increase in seized marijuana, firearms entering northern US

Christopher Perry, director of field operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, explains a rise of drug and firearm seizures (Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Flanked by a cache of seized weapons and drugs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Tuesday a substantial increase in the amount of illegal guns and marijuana entering the country — and warned this trend is likely to continue.

“Our officers are out there every day trying to make sure this stuff doesn’t get into our country,” Christopher Perry, director of field operations in Detroit, said at the border patrol’s Ambassador Bridge offices. “We have to be vigilant, whether it’s in cars, trucks or air.”

Drug enforcement at Michigan’s five ports of entry — the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie, and Detroit Metro Airport — netted 9,059 pounds of pot, a 1,726% increase from the year before.

It seized 203 firearms, up 227%, also from last year.

And the agency took in $4.6 million in cash and more than 2,000 agricultural pests, a growing concern in an increasingly global economy, officials said.

The drugs and firearms are held in evidence or destroyed and the cash is deposited into the federal treasury.

The increase in firearms, Perry said, was from a combination of criminal activity and gun carriers not properly reporting their weapons.

Nationwide, gun sales have increased, driven by concerns about the pandemic, fears of violent demonstrations and the possibility of more firearm regulations if Democrats are successful in next week’s elections.

The director attributed the steep rise in marijuana trafficking to increased demand for it since its legalization in Michigan and other places. Local markets, he said, appear to be unable to keep up with what people are willing to purchase, so criminals are smuggling it in.

Most of the marijuana is coming in commercial trucks, 500-10,000 pounds at a time, Perry said.

Monday night alone, he added, border protection agents seized a ton of it.

Agents seized other drugs as well, including, more than 200 pounds of cocaine, less than 2 pounds of meth, and about 15 pounds of fentanyl; and the agency made 225 arrests.

“Border security is national security,” Perry added. “It plays a huge role in protecting America.”


(c) 2020 the Detroit Free Press

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