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Canadian pleads guilty to drug smuggling and money laundering charges

Admits to smuggling large amounts of marijuana into the United States

SEATTLE - A key figure in a cross-border cocaine and marijuana smuggling scheme pleaded guilty today in federal court to conspiracy charges of drug distribution and money laundering, following a long-term investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Devron D. Quast, 38, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, was arrested in Ferndale, Wash., in June 2008, following a meeting with an undercover federal agent who was posing as a drug trafficker. When Quast was arrested, law enforcement agents seized $60,000 and hundreds of pounds of "B.C. Bud" marijuana he had brought into the United States.

According to court documents, Quast oversaw the transportation logistics of moving large amounts of cocaine and marijuana. The drugs were concealed in a variety of ways, including inside the false walls of cargo containers, in loads of commercial lumber, and inside large PVC pipes stowed within a propane tanker. Some loads were carried on foot across the border between the United States and Canada.

"ICE will aggressively investigate the movement of illegal drugs across our borders to stop these criminal enterprises," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's office of investigations in Seattle. "We remain committed to working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to keep drug traffickers from profiting from this type of activity."

The investigation into this drug smuggling ring involved multiple law enforcement agencies and resulted in the seizure of more than 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 7,000 pounds of "B.C. Bud" and about $3.5 million. Over the course of the investigation 38 people have been charged with drug trafficking and related offenses.

Quast was so confident in his drug smuggling tactics that he provided insurance to the Canadian marijuana suppliers that the drugs would be successfully smuggled across the border. He now faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and up to life in prison when sentenced on March 6, 2009.

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.