DETROIT -- The controversy over shipments of garbage from Toronto to
landfills in Michigan heated up yesterday when U.S. Customs inspectors
arrested the driver of a Canadian garbage truck after they discovered about
a tonne of marijuana concealed behind trash he was transporting.

That amount "in one truck," Michigan State Representative Kathleen Law said
after being informed of the discovery. "This just underscores that trash
from Canada leaves us open to this kind of illegal activity. We must pass
legislation and we must regulate the bridge. It's just out of control. This
is scary."

Inspectors at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich., found the drugs
after a Gamma-ray scanner showed anomalies in the truck's cargo, said
Cherise Miles, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The
scanner works by producing a picture, similar to an X-ray machine, of the
truck's contents for inspectors to scrutinize.

The truck was then sent for a secondary inspection.

"Upon opening the rear of the garbage truck, a plastic garbage bag filled
with marijuana fell out," Ms. Miles said, adding that an ensuing search
revealed multiple plastic and hockey bags full of marijuana.

The driver of the truck, a 37-year-old man from India, was taken into
custody and is expected to be charged with conspiracy to smuggle marijuana.

The truck's manifest said it contained solid waste and was headed to a trash
dump in Michigan. Although Ms. Miles confirmed the garbage was from Toronto,
she would not say what company owned the truck.

"Right now there still is an investigation as to whether the company had
knowledge or not," she said last night."

Yesterday's bust wasn't the first time drugs have been found in a garbage
truck coming from Canada. In April, three people were arrested after a load
of trash headed for a Wayne County, Mich., landfill was used to bring 23
kilograms of marijuana into the United States.

U.S. legislators who want to halt the trash shipments, which are now up to
300 truckloads a day from Canada, have been infuriated by the news that some
of the loads contained illegal drugs, medical waste and other hazardous
material not allowed in Michigan landfills.

Bills designed to halt or delay trash shipments have been introduced in the
U.S. Congress and the state legislature.


Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2003
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2003, The Globe and Mail Company
Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca
Website: http://www.globeandmail.ca/