SEATTLE - A Whatcom County, Wash., man with an extensive criminal history was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison and six years of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Christopher Walters, 41, of Ferndale, Wash., was arrested in September 2009 after he picked up more than $2 million worth of ecstasy from a co-conspirator in an isolated location in the San Juan Islands. The drugs had been delivered by jet ski from an organized crime group in Canada, believed to be the Hells Angels.
According to court documents, Walters came to the attention of law enforcement in July 2009 when the U.S. Coast Guard stopped his 19-foot boat near Bellingham Bay, Wash., for a safety inspection. Walters and another man on the boat were escorted to land after they were found to have a small amount of marijuana for personal use.
A few days later, Walters and two others took the boat on a trailer to a storage facility where they were observed unloading duffle bags. A court authorized search of the storage locker later uncovered more than 100,000 Ecstasy and BZP pills.
Over the next few days, HSI agents arrested two co-conspirators in the case. Walters went into hiding, but was arrested two months later at his girlfriend's apartment. He had told acquaintances that he was being paid $30,000 per load to smuggle drugs for the Hells Angels organized crime group in Canada.
"This sentencing illustrates that drug smugglers, motivated by greed, ultimately pay a very high price for their crimes," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of HSI in Seattle. "We will continue to pursue investigative leads and bring to justice those who engage in this type of illegal activity, regardless of whether it is carried out by air, land or sea."
Walters' criminal history spans 20 years. He has been convicted of burglary, assault, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of marijuana with intent for sale, manufacturing methamphetamine and aggravated assault.