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Couple arrested for smuggling fentanyl into US

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A Canadian couple is accused of importing fentanyl products from China into the United States and then mailing the powerful opioid drugs to Canada. Fentanyl is an opioid-based pain killer roughly 100 times stronger than morphine.

Karl and Sorina Morrison, both 59, were arrested at the Lewiston-Queenston border crossing after an investigation by U.S. authorities. In a criminal complaint filed in New York, a Homeland Security agent says a package mailed from China to Karl Morrison at a mailbox in a UPS store in Niagara Falls, NY, contained four packets, two of which were found to contain types of fentanyl.

"The Morrisons were attempting to smuggle the packages they received from China from the United States to Canada so as to avoid examination by the customs service of either country because the Morrisons knew the contents of the packages to be contraband," agent Curtis Ryan wrote in the complaint.

The complaint noted that the Morrisons have a son and that since 2009, five packages mailed to him have been seized by the Canada Border Services Agency after they were found to contain controlled substances. It also said Karl Morrison admitted picking up the packages for his son, which were from China, but did not understand what the packages were.

In the current case, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerted Ryan to a mail package that was considered suspicious because it originated from a known Chinese producer of fentanyl. The package was addressed to Karl Morrison, the complaint said.

The Kitchener, ON, couple has been charged with conspiracy to import and export controlled substances and analogues and attempt to export controlled substances and analogues. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The couple has pleaded not guilty.

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