SEATTLE - Two Canadian men who allegedly ran a cross-border cocaine and marijuana smuggling scheme for the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang were arrested yesterday by federal agents, capping a three-year undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Robert J. Shannon, 38, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, and Devron D. Quast, 38, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, are believed to be key figures in a narcotics smuggling ring that relied on hollowed out logs, landscaping bark and a variety of other ruses to move the drugs.
Shannon and Quast were taken into custody following a meeting at a restaurant in Ferndale, Wash., with an undercover federal agent. The two had come to the United States to discuss a deal with the agent, who was posing as drug trafficker.
According to the indictment, Shannon oversaw the smuggling and distribution of narcotics for the motorcycle gang. Under his direction, drugs were transported in a variety of ways, including inside the false walls of cargo containers, hidden in loads of commercial lumber, and smuggled in large PVC pipes stowed inside a propane tanker.
Quast was responsible for the day-to-day transportation of the drugs, even providing a guarantee to Canadian marijuana suppliers that drugs would be successfully smuggled into the United States. He agreed to pay the suppliers $425 per pound of marijuana if any load was seized by law enforcement or lost during transport.
In addition to the two arrests, law enforcement seized $50,000 and hundreds of pounds of "B.C. Bud" marijuana that had been smuggled into the United States.
"ICE remains vigilant in its efforts to combat the flow of illegal drugs across the border," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's office of investigations in Seattle. "We will continue to investigate this type of activity, working with other dedicated law enforcement agencies to keep illicit substances off our streets and out of our communities."
In addition to the arrest of Quast and Shannon, Richard Jansen, of Chilliwack, British Columbia, was taken into custody for his role in transporting the drugs. He is the owner of Scorpion Transport Services.
Over the course of this three-year investigation, more than 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 7,000 pounds of "B.C. Bud" marijuana and $3.5 million has been seized. In addition, 38 people have been charged with drug trafficking and related offenses.
If convicted, Shannon and Quast face up to life in prison based on the amount of illegal drugs involved in the case.
ICE was joined in this investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Washington State Patrol, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and the Bellingham Police Department.