Lynden border crossing shut down in chemical scare

By Steve Guntli

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) shut down the Lynden border crossing for several hours on November 23 after finding unknown chemicals in a Canadian vehicle.

CBP officials believe the chemicals were intended to be used in manufacturing methamphetamines.

“We hate to inconvenience the public,” said spokesperson Thomas Schreiber. “But when dealing with unknown elements, it’s always best to exercise caution.”

CBP officials stopped Calum James Buchanan, 41, and Lola Crystal McKay, 24, of Chilliwack, B.C. around 7 p.m. Agents found a tub containing plastic bags full of unknown liquids in the trunk of a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am.

Agents also found a metal strainer covered with white residue along with several cans of chemicals.

A CBP agent who inspected the liquids felt ill after breathing the fumes and was transported to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham. Medical personnel treated the agent and released him the same day.

According to investigators, Buchanan and McKay weren’t intending to cross the border, but road construction north of the border confused the couple into driving to the Lynden crossing.

Buchanan said a third party paid him $500 to deliver the plastic tub to a buyer in Canada. He claimed he was unaware of the tub’s contents, according to the charging documents.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents took Buchanan and McKay into custody at the scene. The two appeared before a Whatcom County judge on November 24 for possession with intent to manufacture.

Federal agents took McKay into custody and returned her to Canada, while Buchanan is being held on a $50,000 bond.

DHS’s border enforcement security task force is conducting the investigation.

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