MARINE CITY (WWJ) – Authorities say a 24-year-old Canadian man was busted trying to smuggle illegal drugs into the United States by crossing the St. Clair River in a scuba suit.
Jesse James Thomas Zunti, a Windsor resident, was apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents around 1 a.m. Monday as he emerged from the river near Marine City.
Border Patrol agents were alerted to the situation by a concerned citizen who saw someone swimming across the St. Clair River and called police.
Agents then contacted remote camera operators at the Operational Integration Center at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, who were able to locate the suspect in the river. The camera operator relayed to agents on the ground that the man appeared to be pulling a “dry bag” used by divers behind him.
Agents waiting on the ground when Zunt finished his swim found a large, watertight PVC cylinder holding over eight pounds of marijuana tied to a seawall ladder.
Zunti, along with the narcotics, was turned over to the St. Clair County Drug Task Force, which accepted the case for prosecution.
Bond was set at $100,000 cash/surety at an arraignment Wednesday. Zunti is being held at the St. Clair County Intervention and Detention Center pending a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 4 before Judge Michael Hulewicz in Marine City District Court.
Local officials say it’s the first incident they know of where someone tried to smuggle marijuana underwater.