Massachusetts Women Charged with Smuggling Marijuana into US

Women bought the weed legally in Canada

Tom Puckett
August 06, 2019 - 4:45 pm

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

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Lewiston, NY (WBEN) Three Massachusetts women who prosecutors say legally bought marijuana in Canada tried to bring it home into the US.

Federal prosecutors say Briha K. Younger, 25, Jenae R. Johnson, 28, both of Boston, MA, and Micaela G. Ratcliffe, 28, of Dorchester, MA, were arrested Monday at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. Prosecutors say the three all gave a negative declaration when asked if there was any marijuana and/or contraband in the vehicle. A Customs and Border Protection office noted that Ratcliffe had a record for a prior incident involving travel with marijuana and referred the defendants for a secondary inspection. There, prosecutors say the women once again gave a negative declaration for narcotics. However, when a CBP officer searched Younger’s purse, multiple rolled joints containing suspected marijuana were recovered. During a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers found commercial packaged marijuana and marijuana products in multiple bags, that the investigation suggested had been lawfully purchased at marijuana dispensaries in Canada. All three defendants were arrested at the scene.

“The possession of marijuana and its importation into the United States remain federal crimes,” noted U.S. Attorney JP Kennedy. “The fact that it may have been lawfully purchased in Canada does not change that. To those who may ask what’s the harm here? My response is simple. In the last two weeks right here in Erie County, two different individuals have been charged with manslaughter for having been involved in fatal car crashes while driving under the influence of marijuana. The first victim was a woman who was struck by a drugged driver while walking down a sidewalk. The second victim was a woman who was watching television in her living room when a drugged driver plowed his car into her apartment and killed her. If this office, together with our federal partners, can help to save the lives of innocent potential future victims by curbing the flow of marijuana into our community and/or by letting the public know of the significant legal consequences that flow from being charged with a violation of federal law, then we will not hesitate to act. Such actions are undertaken not only enhance the safety of our community but quite possibly to prevent today’s marijuana possessor or importer from either becoming or supplying tomorrow’s manslaughter defendant. Regardless of the law in Canada—or even New York State—the public must be aware that the manufacture, possession, distribution, or importation of marijuana remain federal crimes.”

All three are charged with smuggling of goods into the United States, importation of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance. The charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000.

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