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Canadian man pleads guilty to drug charge


BUFFALO -- Lawrence Hong, 21, of Canada, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Felicetta, who is handling the case, stated that on January 21, 2017, the defendant presented himself for inspection as a non-immigrant visitor to the United States from Canada at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry. Hong was traveling alone in a 2016 Volkswagen that had an Ontario registration. The defendant told the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer performing the primary inspection that he was going to Buffalo to shop for a few hours at the mall and that he had nothing to declare. Despite his professed planned shopping trip, defendant had no explanation for the presence of his pet dog in the vehicle with him nor could the defendant provide details of what he intended to do with the dog while he was shopping.

Hong was referred for a secondary inspection during which a CBP officer ran a narcotics detection K-9 dog on the defendant’s vehicle. The officer opened the driver's side door of the vehicle and discovered a 9 mm handgun. During a full inspection the vehicle, $1,122.00 in cash. a piece of paper containing Xanax pills, hypodermic needles, and elastic bands were discovered.

Also during the secondary inspection, Hong told an officer that he was going to Ohio to purchase another firearm. The defendant also told the officer that the firearm discovered in his vehicle was previously purchased in the United States and illegally smuggled into Canada.  Hong further admitted that he was a heroin addict who was undergoing methadone treatment.

The plea is the result of an investigation by Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 11.