Agents Break Up Pot Operation 

Agents Break Up Pot Operation 
Posted by FoM on April 12, 2000 at 11:09:13 PT
By Scott Sunde, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Source: Seattle P-I
In a series of arrests and searches yesterday, federal agents broke up a marijuana-smuggling operation capable of bringing 200 pounds of "B.C. bud" across the border from Canada.FBI and U.S. Customs Service agents made 13 arrests in Whatcom and Skagit counties. 
Federal authorities would not say whether drugs and cash also were seized. More arrests will likely follow.Agents said the arrests culminate a 30-month investigation that apparently followed thousands of dollars in cash across the border in Whatcom County and the marijuana that returned.The Canadian marijuana, valued for its quality and potency, sells for $3,500 a pound in Seattle but fetches up to $8,000 a pound in New York.High profits in the United States and little punishment for pot growers in Canada have created a flourishing border trade.The investigation revealed yesterday resulted in a series of related indictments and federal complaints. Two indictments charge 14 people with conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana and related drug offenses. A federal complaint unsealed yesterday also charges a 45-year-old man, described in court as a transient, with failing to report taking $17,000 across the border at Sumas.Thirteen of those charged made their first appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle yesterday. A federal magistrate ordered all to be held in jail until later hearings.Defendants were so numerous that they had to sit in the jury box in two separate hearings. They ranged in age from 20 to 45 and perhaps older.Eleven people pleaded not guilty. Two will enter pleas later.Two people named in the indictments have yet to be arrested, and a third grand jury indictment remains sealed, said Susan Roe, a federal prosecutor.Roe said the investigation involves a "significant border-crossing operation." Authorities contend that efforts to smuggle marijuana involved amounts up to 100 kilograms (more than 200 pounds).According to court documents, the crimes started in summer 1998 and at least part of the drug operation was still active on Jan. 1.Roe would say little else about the case, but did note that the indictments stem from a common investigation.One indictment that charges 10 people includes four members of the Rabang family, and the complaint unsealed yesterday charges a fifth member of that family.In addition to the charges against the Rabangs, federal prosecutors also intend to seek forfeiture of property used in the alleged drug operations. That includes two homes owned by Rabang family members in the Whatcom County town of Deming and about $300,000 made in the alleged marijuana operation.While some of those arrested face multiple charges, each defendant faces one count of conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana. The penalty for that crime is five to 40 years in prison.P-I reporter Scott Sunde can be reached at 206-448-8331 or scottsunde seattle-pi.comPublished: April 11, 2000 1998-2000 Seattle Post-IntelligencerCannabisNews Articles On B.C.Bud:
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