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Contraband
03/22/2011

Canadian who attempted to smuggle marijuana by boat sentenced

Attempts to flee law enforcement stymied by engine trouble

TACOMA, Wash. - A Canadian man who attempted to smuggle potent "B.C. Bud" marijuana into a remote area of Washington's Olympic Peninsula was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Colin Charles Crowe, 27, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, was arrested May 31, 2010 near Clallam Bay, Wash. He pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to conspiracy to import a controlled substance.

According to court documents, an agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol (USBP) spotted Crowe and another man while they were trying to bring to shore nearly 550 pounds of marijuana from a small boat. Upon seeing the several large, dark packages, the agent directed Crowe and Kyle Grayson Gadsby to stay with the boat.

Instead, the two men defied the order and took off in the boat. A short time later, marine interdiction agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) saw the two men in U.S. waters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Nearby, eight large bundles wrapped in plastic and duct tape were floating in the water.

The men later told authorities they were being paid $5,000 to smuggle the "B.C. Bud" into the United States. Engine trouble prevented the men from fleeing back to Canada after being spotted by the USBP agent.

"Drug smugglers are often motivated by the possibility of turning a quick profit from their illegal activity. But as this case illustrates, getting involved in the drug trade carries with it legal and personal risks," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Seattle.

Crowe's co-defendant, Gadsby, is scheduled to be sentenced April 25. ICE HSI was assisted in this investigation by CBP, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thomas, Western District of Washington, is prosecuting both cases.