NOV 9 (SEATTLE) – A 52 year old resident of Custer, Whatcom County, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release for his role as a drug courier in a massive, international drug smuggling scheme. Glen Stewart was convicted in July 2012 of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute following a three day jury trial. At trial Stewart testified that when he drove to a Lynwood Safeway store to pick up a vehicle loaded with more than 100 kilos of cocaine, he was unaware of the drugs and was just following directions from a blackberry smart phone that mysteriously appeared in his vehicle.
The investigation into this international drug trafficking ring began in May 2010. Using court authorized wire taps, investigators with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) determined the drug ring was transporting and distributing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and 100 to 200 kilos of cocaine every month. The marijuana was smuggled into the U.S. from Canada and distributed across the country to California, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and New Jersey, among other locations. Proceeds from the marijuana distribution were used to purchase cocaine in Southern California. The cocaine was transported to British Columbia for distribution.
Unbeknownst to Glen Stewart, when he went to pick up the vehicle in the Lynnwood parking lot in April 2011, law enforcement had infiltrated the smuggling ring, and the 106 kilos of cocaine inside the truck had been replaced with sham cocaine. Law enforcement watched as Stewart drove the load to his Custer home and unloaded it. Stewart was taken in for questioning and he told investigators he feared the Hells Angels criminal organization, who owned the cocaine. In fact, after the seizure of the cocaine, law enforcement intercepted calls by members of the criminal organization discussing the purchase of guns, bats and chemical sprays for Canadian members of the criminal ring who were traveling to Washington to confront Stewart over the seized cocaine. Law enforcement warned Stewart and his family. Stewart has remained in custody since his arrest in May 2011.
Two dozen people in the U.S. and Canada have been charged in the case. Six have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Other defendants already sentenced in the case include: Jacob Saul Stuart, the U.S. based leader of the organization, was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison; Michael Murphy, a pilot who transported drugs, 12 years in prison; Jacob Burdick, who stored and organized transportation of the drugs, 12 years in prison; John Washington, a drug distributor for the group, 11 years in prison; Mario Joseph Fenianos, a Canadian who obtained and smuggled cocaine for the organization, 13 years in prison; and Michael William Dubois, another Canadian working on the cocaine side of the smuggling was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Over the course of the investigation investigators seized more than $2 million and 136 kilograms of cocaine. On April 28, 2011, the day search warrants were executed, investigators seized more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from locations across the country.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by DEA Offices – Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Fresno, Los Angeles and New Jersey; HSI - Seattle and Sacramento; Customs and Border Protection – Office of Air & Marine; King County Sheriff’s Department; Seattle Police Department; Washington State Patrol; Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force; and the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (California).