Canadian nurse charged with smuggling 150 pounds of pot into Detroit amid coronavirus

A nurse who lives in Canada but works in Michigan was charged Wednesday with trying to smuggle more than 150 pounds of marijuana after she was caught at the border.

Terri Maxwell, 48, is a registered nurse who lives in Amherstburg, Ontario, but works as a healthcare worker in Michigan. According to U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, Maxwell showed her Canadian passport and work permit under the NAFTA agreement showing she has valid status to work in the U.S., even while non-essential travel is banned.

She also had a placard issued by Canada Border Services Agency showing she is a first responder. These placards were issued some officers would be aware of the essential reason workers needed to use the border. In mid-March, the US-Canada border was temporarily closed to nonessential travel during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, she tried to cross as the Ambassador Bridge but she was referred for inspection. When U.S. Customs searched her trunk, they said it was full and could smell marijuana.

Inside the trunk, officers said there were 143 vacuum-sealed bags of pot, weighing a little more than 150 pounds.

Maxwell was arrested and is due in federal court in Ann Arbor on Thursday.

Schneider said she exploited her access to bring illegal marijuana into Michigan, a state where purchasing, legal sale, and possession of certain amounts of marijuana is legal.

"At a time when health care professionals are working overtime to keep us safe, it's really shameful that anyone would exploit their status as a nurse to smuggle any kind of drug into our country," stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.  "To stop the spread of the Coronavirus, our Canadian border is open only for essential travel - and smuggling in marijuana simply isn't essential."   

Maxwell was charged with conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute, and importing more than 100 pounds of marijuana into the United States from Canada. She could get 20 years in prison if convicted.