A Canadian woman arrested with her spouse for not declaring tens of thousands of dollars in currency told investigators they made monthly trips from British Columbia to Manitoba to deliver marijuana stashed in hockey bags, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Robert and Jonna Booth are charged with bulk cash smuggling into and out of the United States. They were told at a hearing Tuesday they qualified for a court-appointed lawyer, but a spokesman for the federal defender's office was not available for comment.
Authorities said the Booths were detained after arriving at the Northgate port of entry in western North Dakota about 4:30 p.m. Monday. Investigators said Customs and Border Patrol officers found about $73,000 in Canadian money stashed behind a cabinet in the bathroom of the couple's motor home.
The Booths had claimed they were not carrying more than $10,000, authorities said.
Investigators said Jonna Booth told them that she and her husband have traveled to Winnipeg once a month since January to sell pot. She said they decided to go through North Dakota this time because of snowstorms in the Canadian Rockies, according to investigators.
Jonna Booth told U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Klein during Tuesday's hearing that she did not fully understand the charge, and Robert Booth said there were no plans to sneak the money into the U.S.
"We were just going home to British Columbia," he told the judge.
Police said Robert Booth told them he won the money gambling at a casino, but they said information in Jonna Booth's journal indicated that the cash came from the sale of marijuana. The Booths are not facing drug charges in the federal case.
Court documents show Jonna Booth told officers that she and her husband started selling marijuana because of financial problems. She told officers the marijuana was transported from British Columbia to Manitoba in two hockey bags, according to the documents.
The Booths were not asked to enter a plea Tuesday. A detention hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.