Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pre-screened border crosser busted for smuggling pot


Border Patrol agents arrested a man this week who was signed up for the Nexus program, an electronic pass program in which members submit to background checks in return for a speedier crossing at the border.

Despite that extra layer of security, the 41-year-old Lacey man was found with 4.4 pounds of what authorities said was high grade marijuana in the cargo area of his 1999 Jeep Cherokee.

Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that on Sunday night, the man was crossing the border into the United States and was selected for an intense search after entering one of the lanes set aside for people in the Nexus program. Authorities did not say why the man was selected to be searched.

But during the ensuing inspection, a box was found in the vehicle. When officers opened it, they allegedly found four sealed packages of marijuana, packed with coffee grounds. They immediately arrested the driver.

Nexus began in June 2002 and was meant to give people who cross the border frequently a way of avoiding the long lines at the U.S.-Candadian border. Participants undergo a background screening and are then issued a card with an embedded radio transponder. The drivers can wave the card at a receiver, which allows border agents to view the person's background information and photo.

Participants are generally considered to be low-risk travelers.

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