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U.S. driver nabbed at border with cash, cannabis after wrong turn

American driver was following GPS coordinates that were entered improperly and ended up in line-up to Canada at Rainbow Bridge

A U.S. driver was arrested after attempting to enter Canada with more than 180 kg of cannabis and over $600,000 U.S. in his vehicle at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, the RCMP say.

Police say on May 2 an American driver was following GPS coordinates that were entered improperly.

The California man took a wrong turn and ended up in the border line-up at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Rainbow Bridge port of entry in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The driver had no passport and was referred for a secondary examination, police said.

During the inspection, the CBSA officers discovered 181 kg of cannabis valued at between $360,000 and $725,000 Canadian and over $600,000 U.S. dollars (about $815,000 Canadian).

The CBSA officers arrested the driver and seized the cash and cannabis.

The case was then turned over to the RCMP Niagara-on-the-Lake Federal Policing Border Integrity Team (RCMP BI).

The RCMP BI Team found cash and cannabis in various places in the car, according to police.

The cannabis was vacuum packed and separated into boxes. The cash was also found separated into bundles, and concealed in a safe, a suitcase, and a pelican case (hard-shelled lockable case).

This style of packaging is consistent with those commonly used by drug dealers or money launderers, police said.

The driver was charged and is currently waiting on a bail hearing

Andrew Lee Toppenberg, 60, of Tustin, California, is charged with:

  • possession of 181kg of cannabis for the purpose of distribution contrary to s.9(2) of the Cannabis Act;
  • importing 181kg of cannabis contrary to s.11(1) of the Cannabis Act;
  • possession of proceeds of property over five thousand dollars knowing that all or part of the proceeds of property was obtained by a crime in the United States of America contrary to s.354(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.

Toppenberg appeared before a Justice on May 5 at the Robert S.K Welch Court in St. Catharines and was remanded in custody. His next court date has not been scheduled.

None of the allegations have been tested in court and the accused is considered innocent unless proven guilty.