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Contraband
10/19/2012

Transnational drug ring leader sentenced to 15 years in prison

SEATTLE – A Kirkland man was sentenced Friday to 15 years in federal prison for his part in leading a transnational drug smuggling ring uncovered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and member agencies of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

Jacob Saul Stuart, 39, pleaded guilty in November 2011 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DEA and HSI special agents, using court authorized wiretaps, determined Stuart's smuggling ring was transporting and distributing up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and as much as 440 pounds of cocaine every month.

"This defendant tried to hide his international drug dealing while posing as a stay-at-home soccer dad," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "His lust for drug money disregarded the harm he spread throughout communities in the U.S. and Canada, and enriched a violent criminal gang."

The operation involved smuggling marijuana into the U.S. from Canada, where it was distributed across the country to California, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and New Jersey, among other locations. Proceeds from the marijuana sales were then used to purchase cocaine in Southern California. The cocaine was delivered to members of the outlaw motorcycle gang Hells Angels in British Columbia for distribution in Canada.

"Stuart and his partners created an elaborate drug distribution scheme that not only benefited them, but also a violent Canadian crime syndicate," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "HSI is dedicated to working with law enforcement partners to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and bring to justice those who torment our communities with their criminal activities."

One of the telephone calls recorded in the case captured the defendant discussing the purchase of guns, bats and chemical sprays for Canadian members of the criminal ring who were traveling to Washington state to investigate the theft of more than 220 pounds of their cocaine. What Stuart did not know was that the drugs had actually been intercepted and seized by law enforcement.

In their remarks to the court, prosecutors highlighted Stuart's knowledge of his violent criminal associates saying: "Stuart knew – and apparently did not care – that he was working with a large Canadian organized crime group that was willing to use violence to further its ends. These facts call for a very lengthy sentence."

Over the course of the investigation, officials seized more than $2 million and 300 pounds of cocaine; and more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana from locations across the country.

Twelve people in U.S. and Canada have been charged in the case. Five have already been sentenced to prison, they include: Michael Murphy, a pilot who transported drugs, 12 years in prison; Jacob Burdick, who stored and organized transportation of the drugs, 12 years in prison; John Washington, a drug distributor for the group, 11 years in prison; Mario Joseph Fenianos, a Canadian who obtained and smuggled cocaine for the ring, 13 years in prison; and Michael William Dubois, another Canadian associated with the cocaine side of the smuggling scheme, 10 years in prison.

This multijurisdictional case involved: DEA Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Fresno, Los Angeles and New Jersey; HSI Seattle and Sacramento; U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine; the King County Sheriff's Office; the Seattle Police Department; the Washington State Patrol; the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force; and the California Bureau Of Narcotics Enforcement.

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.