Even when crossing the border in full scrubs and a lab coat during a global pandemic, the US Border Patrol is always on the hunt for contraband.
In a made-for-the-movies drug bust at America’s northern border this week, Customs and Border Patrol agents stopped a legitimately credentialed nurse on her way from Canada to Detroit when they discovered 150 pounds of vacuum sealed cannabis in the trunk of her car.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the nurse — a Canadian resident and active employee at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit — arrived at the US border early Thursday morning. There, she presented border agents with her passport and US work permit, a work badge, and a car placard from the Canadian Border Services Agency denoting her status as a first responder in the COVID-19 pandemic. But even with all that paperwork and her white coat, the 48-year-old nurse was still asked to open her trunk and submit to a full vehicle search.
Once the back of the car was opened, cops said that they immediately smelled cannabis, and quickly uncovered 143 vacuum sealed bags of bud. And while legal dispensaries in Michigan and Canada have been allowed to stay open during the crisis, border officials did not consider the nurse’s illicit trafficking to be “essential.”
“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,” US Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “To stop the spread of the coronavirus, our Canadian border is open only for essential travel."
After the bust, border agents cuffed the fully-scrubbed nurse and charged her with conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute, and importing more than 100 pounds of marijuana into the US from Canada. Additionally, officials from Henry Ford Hospital said that the woman has been placed on administrative leave from work at least until the case is resolved.
Despite regional policing policy changes in response to the global pandemic, American law enforcement has not shied away from pursuing drug crimes — even when it means searching nurses on the way to a hospital.
If convicted, the Canadian nurse could face up to 20 years in prison for her trafficking attempt.
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