Canadian man pleads guilty in international weed conspiracy

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A 22-year-old Canadian man faces at least five years and as many as 40 years in prison after pleading guilty in connection with an international cannabis conspiracy.

Ranjodh Singh pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, as well as distributing, at least 100 kilograms of cannabis, notes a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years and a US$5 million ($6.4 million) fine.

The guilty plea follows Singh allegedly conspiring with others, including Amanpreet Gill, to distribute marijuana. The scheme was discovered in December of 2020 when the co-conspirators bought and arranged for a shipment of cannabis from Canada to Smartway Associates in Somerset, N.J.

Unbeknownst to the co-conspirators, however, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Peace Bridge Cargo Facility intercepted the illicit cargo on Dec. 1, 2020. After suspicions were raised about the transporting vehicle, it was searched and officers found “a large quantity of marijuana packaged in vacuum sealed bags.”

Investigating the delivery operation, the authorities determined Singh was driving a silver vehicle. Following the suspect vehicle, authorities saw Singh at the two warehouses where the shipment was temporarily stored and he was also observed at the final destination for the illegal weed, the U.S. attorney’s office reports.

It was at the final stop that investigators seized a cellphone from the defendant, “which contained videos showing him identifying law enforcement personnel while he was driving around the warehouses.”

Charges against Gill are pending.

The investigation team included members of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), CBP, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and the North Tonawanda Police Department.

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

Border crossings checkpoints in New York State have been a hotspot to transport illicit cannabis cargo. Last month, CBP officers and HIS special agents seized more than 3,000 lbs. (1,361 kilograms) of cannabis in two separate shipments worth an estimated US$6 million ($7.6 million). Over the last few months, there was a US$2.4 million ($3 million) weed confiscation and a US$1.3 million ($1.7 million) discovery.

It is also not the first time a Canadian has been cited for smuggling attempts. In January, a 27-year-old was charged in the U.S. after trying to smuggle cannabis in hockey bags. In another case last summer, U.S. charges were dismissed without prejudice against a Canadian resident after CBP officers at the Peace Bridge seized cannabis having a street value of US$20 million ($25.4 million).

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