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Former Mountie sentenced to 8 years for role in US-Canada drug conspiracy

SEATTLE — A former officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was sentenced Friday to eight years in U.S. federal prison for his leadership role in a major cross-border drug conspiracy.

Rapinder "Rob" Singh Sidhu, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, was indicted in August 2011 following a lengthy investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The probe led to the indictment of 56 defendants and the seizure of more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine and in excess of $3.5 million in currency.

According to records filed in the case, after Sidhu quit the RCMP in 2003 disgruntled about his treatment, he went on to assist a criminal conspiracy allied with the Hells Angels to import large shipments of cocaine into Canada and to smuggle B.C. Bud marijuana into the U.S. Prosecutors say Sidhu was instrumental in recruiting a corrupt Canadian border guard to help get the cocaine through Canada's border checkpoints.

"From the start, this defendant has tried to downplay his role in the scheme," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "However, it's hard to believe that a former police officer who exploited his police knowledge and contacts to profit from the drug trade, did not know exactly what he was doing. HSI and our Canadian law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring the U.S.-Canada border is not a barrier to justice. Criminals who think they can violate our border's integrity with impunity, can and will be held accountable in a court of law."

In asking the court for an eight-year prison term, prosecutors wrote: "Even more troubling, according to several of his co-conspirators, [the defendant] exploited the violence of the criminal organizations with which he was allied to intimidate them and others into doing his bidding."

Sidhu was extradited from Canada last March to face charges. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export cocaine seven months later in October. The leader of the conspiracy, Robert Shannon, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in March 2009. Two of the 56 defendants charged in the case remain at large.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. This investigation was led by HSI with significant support from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Snohomish (Wash.) Regional Drug Task Force. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington prosecuted.