The Albany Times Union and Hearst newspaper chains focused over the weekend on the growing wave of smuggled narcotics coming in through the North Country.
They suggest that drug-runners from Canada are beginning to use the same tactics now common on the US-Mexican border, including a deliberate effort to intimidate law-enforcement.
But the story also gets at the small-town intimacy of the crime.
Aware he was being followed, the driver pulled into a parking lot in a small town 50 miles inside U.S. territory and walked away. Agents caught up with him and searched the vehicle, popping the trunk to find 119 pounds of extra-strength hydroponic pot.
An everyday occurrence along the U.S.-Mexico border? Maybe. But this incident unfolded in the village of Saranac Lake, an hour’s drive from Canada.
The driver was not an average “mule.” Lee Marlowe, 57, was a former Elks Lodge exalted ruler from the border community of Malone, Franklin County, who worked occasionally as a plumber after losing his job at the nearby General Motors engine plant in Massena that closed in 2009. Much of the marijuana had been stashed in hockey equipment bags.