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Contraband
03/13/2009

Canadian drug smuggler sentenced to 20 years in federal prison

Drugs concealed in a variety of ways to avoid detection at border

SEATTLE - A Canadian truck driver and drug smuggler with ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang was sentenced today to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release, following a long-term investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Robert J. Shannon, 39, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, ran a cross-border smuggling operation that moved "B.C. Bud" marijuana south out of Canada and returned cocaine north through the United States. The drugs were concealed in hollowed out logs, within the false walls of cargo containers, and in shipments of landscaping bark.

ICE agents arrested Shannon in June 2008 along with Devron D. Quast, 38, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, after the two men came to the United States to discuss a potential deal with an undercover federal agent who was posing as a drug trafficker. In late 2008, both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges of cocaine and marijuana distribution, and money laundering.

During the sentencing hearing, Quast testified that he became curious about Shannon after meeting him since he "seemed to have money to spend without having a full-time job." In 2005, Quast said he joined Shannon in the drug smuggling activities. Quast oversaw the day-to-day transportation logistics while Shannon was responsible for providing the drugs that were smuggled.

"This defendant, as part of a violent criminal organization, smuggled tens of thousands of pounds of narcotics into the U.S. and Canada," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office Investigations in Seattle. "The severity of today's sentence shows the serious consequences drug traffickers face for their actions. There is no glory or honor in living a lifestyle of drugs, gang violence and deception in order to turn a quick personal profit. ICE maintains its resolve to aggressively investigate these types of cases and to stem the flow of drugs into our communities."

Shannon remains in custody at the Federal Detention Center at Sea-Tac, Wash., until the Bureau of Prisons determines where he will serve his time. If Shannon seeks treaty transfer to Canada to serve his prison time there, the U.S. Attorney's Office will oppose it since the criminal conduct in question strikes at the sanctity of the border between the two countries.

"Criminals who seek to profit by attacking the border security of the U.S. and Canada should not be able to further exploit their citizenship to avoid paying for their crimes," said United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan. "In cases like this one, my office will vigorously oppose treaty transfer of defendants, so that they will serve the full sentence ordered by the court."

This investigation has resulted in the seizure of more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine, 7,000 pounds of "B.C. Bud" and about $3.5 million. To date, 39 defendants have been charged in connection with the investigation. Quast is scheduled to be sentenced next month.