News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2009
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

"Operation Blade Runner" Exposes Cross Border Helicopter
Drug Smuggling

Cross Border Helicopter Drug Smuggling
Cross Border Helicopter Drug Smuggling

MAR 24 -- (Seattle) – DEA Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Arnold R. Moorin and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jeffrey Sullivan, announced today a coordinated effort between the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which resulted in nine arrests and the seizure of 750 pounds of marijuana, over 80 kilograms of cocaine, six weapons and two helicopters. The investigation was dubbed “Operation Blade Runner” because the group utilized helicopters to smuggle loads of drugs across the U.S/Canadian border. DEA Special Agent in Charge Arnold R. Moorin stated, “This investigation personifies the cooperation required to have a significant impact on cross border crime and the organizations responsible for those crimes.”

Marijuana seized from the Robinson Helicopter in North Idaho Bell 200 Jet Ranger Helicopter landed in Ione, WA and contained 426 pounds of B.C. Bud marijuana
Marijuana seized from the Robinson Helicopter in North Idaho
Bell 200 Jet Ranger Helicopter landed in Ione, WA and contained 426 pounds of B.C. Bud marijuana

On February 21, 2009, a traffic stop conducted by the Utah Highway Patrol in Salt Lake City resulted in the seizure of 83 kilograms of cocaine. Occupants of the vehicle, Ross Legge, 53, of Alberta, BC and Leonard Ferris, 50, of Las Vegas, Nevada, were arrested. One of the men had been identified by law enforcement as part of an ecstasy smuggling ring prosecuted last year in the Western District of Washington. Law enforcement determined the cocaine was destined for a location in eastern Washington where it was to be loaded onto a helicopter in exchange for a load of B.C. Bud marijuana. When the Bell 200 Jet Ranger helicopter touched down outside of Ione, Washington, law enforcement was waiting. Samuel Lindsey-Brown, 24, of Revelstoke, B.C. was arrested after he attempted to off-load 426 pounds of marijuana. On February 27, 2009, Lindsey-Brown committed suicide at the Spokane County Jail.

Robinson Helicopter in North Idaho (marijuana underneath helicopter)
Robinson Helicopter in North Idaho (marijuana underneath helicopter)

On March 5, 2009, the group attempted another exchange of drugs via helicopter and upon landing in North Idaho, Jeremy Snow, 29, of Kelowna, B.C was arrested. The helicopter contained 174 pounds of B.C Bud marijuana.

Through information sharing between the U.S and Canada, the RCMP located the site where the helicopter took off from in B.C. The RCMP arrested two men, ages 48 and 20, from Chilliwack, B.C. and seized 150 pounds of marijuana and approximately 40,000 ecstasy pills. Additional search warrants were served in Nelson, Salmon Arm, and Malakwa, B.C. Officers seized six guns and arrested a 37 year-old resident of Malakwa, a 35 year-old resident of Salmon Arm, and a 35 year-old man from Chilliwack.

Individuals defendants have been charged in districts where they were arrested, but the cases will likely be consolidated in the Western District of Washington where information about the smuggling ring originated and where, within the past year, two other co-conspirators have been prosecuted for the importation of 200,000 MDMA pills and possession of 72 kilograms of cocaine.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S Customs and Border Protection, U.S Border Patrol, U.S Forest Service, Utah Highway Patrol, Washington State Patrol, Spokane County Sheriff’s Department and the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Department.