U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports increased drug seizures in the Great Lakes region

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch patrols the Great Lakes region with boats and aircraft - some equipped with surface radar. The agency said its efforts contributed to the seizure of a large quantity of drugs in fiscal year 2020. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Drug traffickers are moving more drugs, guns, and cash through the Great Lakes region including Cleveland, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

“We see some drugs coming [into the Great Lakes region] from the southwest border," said Kris Grogan, an agency spokesman. “Cocaine goes north and is traded for marijuana.”

Traffickers are also moving drugs between Chicago and New York City across Lake Erie and via the region’s interstate highways, he said.

One hundred and sixty pounds of fentanyl, 18 pounds of heroin, and more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana were seized in the Great Lakes region between Oct.1, 2019 and Sept. 30, according to the Great Lakes branch of Customs and Border Protection that provides aerial and marine support to investigators. More than 200 weapons and $9.1 million dollars were also seized.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch logged more than 10,000 hours in airplanes, helicopters, and patrol boats supporting investigations in the Great Lakes region in fiscal year 2020. (Source: Alex Zamorra)

U.S. border patrol field offices in the region are also reporting an increase in drug seizures at the region’s international ports of entry.

Agents seized 9,059 pounds of marijuana at five ports of entry in Detroit in fiscal year 2020, according to an agency report. That was an increase of nearly 2,000 percent over 2019.

The border patrol field office in Buffalo, which covers 16 ports of entry in New York, reported a more than 900 percent increase in the amount of drugs seized this fiscal year compared to last.

Their seizures included one truck carrying more than 9,000 pounds of marijuana.

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