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Detroit — In an almost two-month period, and in the midst of a lockdown on travel that isn't essential, Detroit's Customs office has seized about 2,900 pounds of pot from would-be border-crossers, the office said — nearly six times as much pot as it seized all last year.

The seizures were carried out by U.S. Customs and Border Protections between March 21 and May 16.

Its enforcement area covers Metro Airport in Romulus, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron and the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie. Site-by-site breakdowns were not available, said spokesman Kris Grogan.

Along with 2,856 pounds of pot, Customs agents also seized 87 pounds of cocaine, 12 pounds of fentanyl, a hyper-potent opioid deadly in small amounts, and 12 guns. In 2019, the Detroit field office seized only 10.4 pounds of fentanyl all year.

In terms of cocaine and firearms, though, 2019 wins out over the lockdown: 600 pounds compared to 87, and 62 guns compared to 12. 

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment, access to marijuana, fentanyl and cocaine in the Detroit area is considered "high."

A late-April seizure of marijuana at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit accounted for 153 pounds of the government's haul.

More: Hospital nurse stopped at the U.S.-Canada border with trunkload of marijuana

A woman from Amherstberg, Ontario, Terri Lynn Maxwell, 48, was named in a federal complaint that alleged conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute and import more than 100 pounds of marijuana. 

In nursing scrubs and a lab coat, the government alleges, Maxwell told Customs authorities she was en route to Henry Ford Hospital to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in a statement back then that "at a time when health care professionals are working overtime to keep us safe, it’s really shameful that anyone would exploit their status as a nurse to smuggle any kind of drug into our country." 

According to the criminal complaint, at about 9:07 a.m. on April 22, at the Detroit Ambassador Bridge, Maxwell presented her Canadian passport and work permit. Maxwell also had a placard issued by Canada Border Services Agency showing she is a first responder. 

Customs officers had Maxwell open the trunk of her Ford Fusion for an enforcement exam and allegedly noticed an odor of marijuana. Upon inspection officers allegedly found 143 vacuum sealed bags of suspected marijuana with a total weight of 153.69 pounds.

In mid-April, Customs agents seized 80 pounds of cocaine and fentanyl at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, in the tractor cab of a commercial truck headed for Canada. 

The driver, who was carrying a shipment of "flavoring syrup, originating in California," as Customs described it, "became visibly shaken during the examination of his cab," and the drugs were found. Authorities arrested the man. 

The U.S.-Canada border closed to all but essential travel in March. It will remain that way through June 21, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

jdickson@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @downi75

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