Seven sentenced for drug smuggling
One former and two current Abbotsford residents – along with five others, including two Surrey men – have been sentenced in connection to a massive scheme that involved trafficking thousands of pounds of "B.C. Bud" and cocaine across the U.S./Canada border.
Andrew Hall, 33, and Darrin Hotner, 42, of Abbotsford were each sentenced on March 25 in Seattle to two years probation, a $5,000 fine and 120 hours of community service.
Jody York, 36, formerly of Abbotsford and now of Barriere, was sentenced to the longest prison term – 59 months – and was taken into custody on the spot. Edward Russell, 34, of Surrey was sentenced to 54 months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine. He was also taken into custody.
The men were described as managers in a drug organization that moved thousands of pounds of marijuana into the U.S. in PVC pipe, hollowed-out logs, wood chips and hidden compartments in tractor trailer rigs.
The leader of the conspiracy, Rob Shannon of Maple Ridge, was sentenced in March 2009 to 20 years in prison.
Shannon, along with Devron Quast of Abbotsford, was arrested in June 2008 following a three-year investigation that involved undercover officers and resulted in the seizure of more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine, 7,000 pounds of marijuana and about $3.5 million in cash.
Quast was sentenced in July 2009 to 75 months in jail.
To date, 54 defendants, including 28 Canadians, have been charged. A total of 48 have been convicted.
At last Friday's sentencing hearing, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said this was "a major drug organization that had a terrible impact on lower British Columbia and this part of the U.S."
Court documents say Hall's role was limited to manual labour, such as hollowing out logs so that marijuana could be placed inside, or shoveling out bark mulch from trailers.
He was paid approximately $500 for each load in which he was involved. He had no financial stake in the marijuana nor was he involved in the planning, the documents state.
Hall became involved in the scheme in late 2004 and withdrew in 2006 "because he no longer wished to be involved in criminal activity."
Hotner allowed marijuana to be stored at his Abbotsford farm before it was loaded for transport.
The other defendants sentenced on Friday were: Bryan Hanna, 28, of Vancouver, who received one year in prison; Brian Stone, 48, of Surrey, one year probation and 80 hours of community service; and Frederick Davey, 63, one year probation.
All seven defendants pleaded guilty last November.