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Canadian trucker pleads guilty to marijuana drug smuggling charges

SEATTLE - The owner of a trucking company in British Columbia pleaded guilty in federal court today to charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, following a long-term investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Richard Jansen, 31, of Chilliwack, British Columbia, was arrested by federal authorities in June 2008. According to his plea agreement, he admitted to transporting nearly 350 pounds of "B.C. Bud" into the United States on June 5, 2008, as a member of a large drug smuggling organization.

As the owner of Scorpion Transport Services, Jansen was responsible for driving his trucks across the border and smuggling cocaine and "B.C. Bud" into the United States. The smugglers concealed the drugs by hiding them inside false walls of cargo containers, within loads of commercial lumber and beauty bark, and inside large PVC pipes stowed within a propane tanker.

"This guilty plea serves as a reminder that ICE will aggressively investigate those who seek to move illegal drugs across our borders," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "As drug smugglers get more creative, we remain committed to working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to keep drug traffickers from profiting from this type of activity."

It is estimated that more $3.5 million, 1,700 pounds of cocaine, and 7,000 pounds of "B.C. Bud" have been seized during investigation of this drug smuggling ring. A total of 40 defendants have been charged in connection with the case including 12 Canadians. Jansen is one of seven individuals who have pleaded guilty so far. Some of the defendants live as far away as Iowa and Illinois.

Jansen faces a mandatory minimum five years in prison and up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced April 10.

ICE was joined in this investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force.