U.S. driver takes wrong turn, is arrested at border with more than $350K worth of cannabis, cash
Published Monday, June 5, 2023 4:00PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 5, 2023 4:00PM EDT
An American driver has been arrested by the RCMP after making a wrong turn and ending up in a line to cross the Canadian border while in possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cannabis and a large amount of cash.
On Friday, the 60-year-old male driver was following GPS coordinates that he’d entered improperly, according to the RCMP.
“He took a wrong turn and ended up in the border line up at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Rainbow Bridge port of entry in Niagara Falls, Ontario,” the RCMP said in a press release.
“As the driver had no passport, he was referred for a secondary examination. During the inspection, the CBSA officers discovered 181 kg of cannabis (valued at between $362,000 CAD and $724,000 CAD) and over $600,000 US dollars (worth $816,167CAD).”
The man was arrested and the cash and cannabis was seized. The case was then turned over to the RCMP Niagara on the Lake Federal Policing Border Integrity Team, who examined the seized items.
“The items were located in various places in the car. The cannabis was vacuum packed and separated into numerous boxes. The cash was also found separated into bundles, and concealed in a safe, a suitcase, and a pelican case (hard-shelled lockable case),” the press release read.
“This style of packaging is consistent with those commonly used by drug dealers or money launderers. As a result of this highly suspicious evidence, the driver has been charged.”
Andrew Lee Toppenberg, of Tustin, California has been charged with possession of cannabis for the purpose of distribution, importing 181 kg of cannabis contrary to the Cannabis Act, and possession of proceeds of property over $5,000 knowing that all or part of the proceeds of property was obtained by a crime.
"The safety and security of Canadians is our government's top priority,” said Marco Mendicino, federal Minister of Public Safety.
“This seizure demonstrates the crucial role that the CBSA and the RCMP play in stopping illicit contraband from entering our communities. Outstanding work by both agencies."
The accused appeared before a judge earlier today at a St. Catharines court and was remanded in custody, where he remains. His next court date has not yet been scheduled.