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Millions of inspections, hundreds of arrests reported by Customs and Border Protection

Last June, a tractor-trailer poised to cross the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge into Canada was selected for a random inspection by officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The truck was said to contain plants from Florida destined for Beamsville, Ont., but an X-ray revealed an anomaly in the refrigeration unit.

It was a green, leafy substance: 156 pounds of marijuana, packaged into approximately 80 brick-like bundles, concealed between the refrigeration coils.

That seizure, along with the arrest of the truck driver, are reflected in the fiscal year 2014 enforcement data report, released this week by the agency’s Buffalo Field Office.

That 156-pound haul of marijuana was among 438 seizures of narcotics by the Buffalo Field Office that year. Marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine and heroin typically are among the substances seized.

Arrests, including that trucker last June, totaled 421. The nature of those arrests range from warrants to immigration violations.

“We get a lot of imposter cases, where individuals will present a passport that doesn’t belong to them,” said Aaron Bowker, public affairs officer for the Buffalo Field Office.

There were 22 currency seizures totaling $267,323, stemming from people who failed to declare that they were carrying more than $10,000, Bowker said.

Merchandise seizures totaled 438, with a total value of more than $1.4 million. Bowker said some of those cases involve intellectual property rights on cargo such as fake designer handbags.

There were 33,244 aliens refused entry into the United States, and more than 21 million primary and secondary inspections were conducted.

The Buffalo Field Office covers 16 ports of entry, from Buffalo up to Champlain. The Port of Buffalo comprises the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, and the Rainbow, Whirlpool-Rapids and Lewiston-Queenston bridges in Niagara County.

During fiscal year 2014, which covers the period from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014, more than 5.5 million personal vehicles, transporting more than 11.8 million people, passed through the Port of Buffalo. There were 961,890 trucks.

Overall, the Buffalo Field Office reported a total of more than 8.8 million personal vehicles; 18.6 million passengers; and 1.5 million trucks.

“The Port of Buffalo ... is the busiest port of entry on the U.S.-Canadian border,” Bowker said. “The Port of Buffalo also ranks No. 1 for the number of passenger vehicles and the second-busiest for commercial traffic crossing the border.”

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com