Niagara Falls, Ontario – An American driver was arrested after attempting to enter Canada with 181 kg of cannabis and over $602,985 US in his vehicle, at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, Canada.
On May 2, 2023, an American driver was following GPS coordinates that were entered improperly. 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. 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 CBSA officers arrested the driver and seized the cash and cannabis. The case was then turned over to the RCMP Niagara on the Lake Federal Policing Border Integrity Team (RCMP BI).
The RCMP BI Team examined the cash and cannabis. 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).
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 and is currently waiting on a bail hearing
Andrew Lee Toppenberg, 60 years old, of Tustin, California is charged with:
possession of 181kg of cannabis for the purpose of distribution contrary to s.9(2) of the Cannabis Act;
importing 181kg of cannabis contrary to s.11(1) of the Cannabis Act;
possession of proceeds of property over five thousand dollars knowing that all or part of the proceeds of property was obtained by a crime in the United States of America contrary to s.354(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.
Toppenberg appeared before a Justice on May 5, 2023 at the Robert S.K Welch Court in St. Catharines, Ontario and was remanded in custody, where he remains. His next court date has not been scheduled.
“The CBSA and the RCMP continue to get positive results from our collaboration to protect Canada’s borders. This seizure of cash and contraband is one more example of how our combined services are keeping Ontario citizens safe from criminal activities.” – Supt. Rae Bolsterli, RCMP O Division, OIC Border Integrity
“The CBSA is extremely proud of the diligence shown by our officers. Their hard work has a profound impact on continually ensuring public safety at our borders.” – Jeff Walters, Director, Niagara District Operations, Canada Border Services Agency
Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is encouraged to contact their local police, the RCMP at 1-800-387-0020 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Smuggling narcotics and other Customs Act contraventions may lead to prosecution in a court of law. For foreign nationals this may mean removal from Canada, and a ban on returning to Canada.
For the latest contraband statistics, visit Canada Border Services Agency seizures.
For facts on declaring currency, visit Canada Border Services Agency declaring currency.
For information on country by country currency reporting, visit Government of Canada CBCR.
If you have information about suspicious cross-border activity, please contact the CBSA Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060.
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