SEATTLE - A car dealer from British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today to six years and three months in federal prison and five years of supervised release for his role in a massive cross-border cocaine and marijuana smuggling ring investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Devron D. Quast, 40, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, pleaded guilty last November to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and money-laundering. He was arrested in June 2008 at a restaurant in Ferndale, Wash., after coming to the United States to negotiate further drug deals.
According to court documents, Quast admitted to being one of the leaders of the criminal drug smuggling organization while he was employed as general manager of his father's car dealership, Don Quast Hyundai in Abbotsford. He oversaw the day-to-day transportation operations, even providing insurance to the Canadian marijuana suppliers that the drugs would be successfully smuggled into the United States.
The ringleaders used creative methods to conceal the drugs hiding them inside hollowed out logs on trucks, within the false walls of cargo containers and vehicles, within loads of commercial lumber and beauty bark, inside large PVC pipes, and within the interior of a propane tanker. Some loads were carried on foot across the international border between the United States and Canada.
"Today's sentence shows there are serious consequences for smuggling illegal substances into the United States," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "ICE maintains its resolve to aggressively investigate these criminal organizations and stop the flow of drugs into our communities."
To date, 40 defendants have been charged in connection with the investigation, 12 of whom are Canadian. Some of the defendants are from as far away as Iowa, Illinois, and Ontario, Canada. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor pointed out that the skills that once made Quast a successful and prosperous businessman were tragically deployed to further a vast drug trafficking enterprise.
During the course of the three-year investigation, law enforcement authorities seized more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine, 7,000 pounds of "B.C. Bud" marijuana and about $3.5 million. Others sentenced recently in this case include:
- Robert J. Shannon, 38, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, who was allegedly in charge of distributing the narcotics on behalf of the Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle gang and others, was sentenced in March to 20 years in prison.
- Phillip W. Stone, 45, Abbotsford, British Columbia, who obtained containers and trailers to transport BC Bud into the U.S., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana in November 2008. Stone was sentenced last month to four years in prison.
- Richard Jansen, 33, Chilliwack, British Columbia, owner of Scorpion Transport Services, allegedly assisted the organization by driving his trucks across the border to facilitate future smuggling. Jansen was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison.
ICE was joined in this investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force.