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Washington state skateboard shop owner sentenced for drug trafficking

SEATTLE - The owner of a Kingston, Wash., skateboard shop, who helped move cocaine ultimately destined for Canada, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, five years of supervised release and a $15,000 fine, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Evans Matan, 36, of Poulsbo, Wash., pleaded guilty in February 2008 to charges of conspiracy to export cocaine. In October 2007, he paid a co-conspirator to move the drugs from his home in Kitsap County to a storage locker in Bothell, Wash.

According to court documents, ICE agents followed a suspected drug courier in October 2007 as he entered the United States at the Blaine, Wash., border crossing. He was observed driving to a Bothell storage unit where he loaded boxes (later found to contain cocaine) into a GMC Denali SUV. The courier then drove north and entered Canada at the Blaine crossing.

After the drug courier returned to Canada, authorities there stopped him driving the SUV. They seized approximately 228 kilograms of cocaine from the vehicle and also found three guns packed alongside the drugs.

"This prison sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who falsely believe that drug trafficking is an easy way to turn a quick profit," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "We will continue to partner with Canadian authorities to stop this type of activity and disrupt the flow or drugs on both sides of the border."

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor told the court that Matan had been involved in the drug trade for years, sending potent "B.C. Bud" marijuana to the Midwest and Southern California, and moving cocaine north to Canada. The prosecutor noted that unlike many defendants who turn to drug dealing because of desperate personal circumstances, Matan had a privileged upbringing in Gig Harbor, Wash., where his father was a doctor.

Last month, the Canadian ringleader of this drug trafficking conspiracy, Charles Lai, was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

ICE was joined in this investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).