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Contraband
05/20/2011

Washington man sentenced on Ecstasy distribution charges

Negotiated drug deal with undercover agent at local Starbucks

SEATTLE - A Whatcom County, Wash., man was sentenced Friday to nine years in federal prison on Ecstasy distribution charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Harjinder Singh Brar, 36, of Lynden, Wash., pleaded guilty in Decenber to one count of conspiracy to possess Ecstasy with intent to distribute. At the conclusion of his prison sentence, he will subject to three years of supervised release.

Court documents describe how Brar negotiated with an undercover HSI agent in October at a Bellingham, Wash., Starbucks to sell 200,000 tablets of Ecstasy for $400,000. It is estimated that the street value of a single Ecstasy tablet in the Seattle area ranges from $10 to $15.

During the meeting at Starbucks, Brar told the undercover officer that he was a part-owner of a berry farm on the Canadian border so he could facilitate drug smuggling between the United States and Canada. The undercover agent made specific requests of Brar, describing the colors and shapes of pills he wanted to buy.

About a week after the meeting, Brar and another man were arrested when they delivered the drugs to the undercover officer. Law enforcement recovered 26 heat-sealed bags weighing more than 85 pounds.

"The defendant's efforts to conceal his criminal activity behind a legitimate business failed and, as a result, he is going to prison," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of HSI in Seattle. "This case demonstrates the resolve of HSI to pursue those who ignore our nation's drug trafficking laws and highlights the penalties that await those who engage in narcotics smuggling."

In court, the prosecutor described how Brar admitted being involved in several drug smuggling transactions since 2006. One of the drug loads involved transporting as much as 65 pounds of cocaine north to Canada.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisca Borichewski. U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour imposed the sentence.