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Portal Port of Entry officers make largest marijuana seizure in state history

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Portal Port of Entry seized more than 3,760 pounds of marijuana on Sunday, May 16, in the largest marijuana seizure in state history. They also seized $645,240 in unreported Canadian currency on Thursday, May 20.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized more than 3,760 pounds of marijuana valuing more than $6 million from a commercial shipment at the Portal Port of Entry on Sunday, May 16. It's the largest marijuana seizure in North Dakota's history.

Days later, on Thursday, May 20, CBP at the Portal Port of Entry seized more than $645,240 in unreported Canadian currency. Values of more than $10,000 must be reported to CBP.

According to a release from CBP, officers discovered the marijuana in a shipment of plastic containers on a tractor trailer.

Burke County Sheriff Shawn Brien said Luiz Carlos Xavier De Oliveira of Alberta was arrested for intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana, and was transported to Burke County jail.

Oliveira could spend up to 20 years in prison and pay a $20,000 fine if convicted. He is next scheduled to appear in Burke County District Court for a preliminary hearing on July 13.

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"We're all excited and kind of concerned both ways, obviously this amount of drugs coming thorugh our border is quite concerning," Brien said. "Now we're actually now that we see this coming through our port here in Burke County our officers are now going to start looking at tractor trailers a little bit more often, so any kind of probable cause we can get to pull over a tractor trailer we're definitely going to do that knowing that this stuff is actually coming through."

Portal Port Director James Rector praised the officers for identifying, referring and inspecting the shipment.

"This interdiction keeps narcotics from entering the United States and reinforces the important border security mission CBP officers have in keeping our country and communities safe," he said in a statement. "The teamwork involved in this seizure was outstanding."

Homeland Security Investigations and the Burke County Sheriff's Department assisted with the seizure, according to the release.

The $645,245 in Canadian currency was located in a passenger vehicle, according to CBP. The money was discovered during a search of the vehicle.

Rector said when large quantities of money are not reported to CBP, they are often proceeds from alleged illicit activity or currency that funds transnational criminal organizations.

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Marijuana seized at the Portal Port of Entry on Thursday, May 20, 2021. // Contributed photo

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