Members Of Marijuana Smuggling Ring Sentenced To Federal Prison
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a Colorado man was sentenced for his role in a conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. United States District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle sentenced Robert Lee Bowker, age 34, of Lyons, Colorado, to 24 months in prison for one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. A superseding indictment was filed against Bowker and several co-conspirators on November 22, 2011. Bowker pleaded guilty on April 26, 2012.
In his plea agreement, Bowker admitted that on three separate occasions between September 15 and September 30, 2011, he and his co-conspirators were responsible for obtaining and transporting marijuana from California to Minnesota. Bowker obtained the marijuana and conspired to distribute the illegal drug here in Minnesota, profiting from its sale.
Following today’s sentence, Special Agent in Charge Michael Feinberg, of Homeland Security Investigations, St. Paul office, said, “HSI places a priority on dismantling drug smuggling and distribution networks in order to keep illegal drugs off our streets and out of our communities. We remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent drug traffickers from profiting from this illegal activity.”
Co-conspirators Boyd Ethan Wilkinson, age 36, of Brighton, Colorado, and Matthew Martin Hecker, age 28, of Evergreen, Colorado, transported the marijuana from California to Minnesota using a Mooney M20 aircraft, with Wilkinson as the pilot and Hecker as the co-pilot. One such trip occurred on September 26, 2011. A second trip, on September 30, 2011, ended when the men landed their plane at the Anoka Airport, and waiting police seized approximately 70 pounds of marijuana and one pound of hashish from the aircraft. Wilkinson and Hecker also made another earlier trip, that time carrying approximately ten pounds of marijuana. In total, the three loads of marijuana weighed more than 50 kilograms.
Hecker and Wilkinson were the first members of the ring to be charged. The indictment against them was filed on October 17, 2011. On October 27, 2011, Hecker pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. On November 30, 2011, Wilkinson pleaded guilty to the same charge. On March 27, 2012, Judge Kyle sentenced Hecker to 10 months in federal prison and Wilkinson to 12 months.
On January 17, 2012, co-conspirator Cameron Leigh Christensen, age 24, of Andover, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana and, on May 30, 2012, was sentenced to six months in federal prison. On February 15, 2011, co-conspirator Todd Christian Skonnord, age 27, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty to the same charge and, on June 5, 2012, was sentenced to 12 months and one day. Like Bowker, Christensen and Skonnord were charged by way of the superseding indictment.
The final co-conspirator in this case, Anthony W. Raymond, age 38, of Longmont, Colorado, pleaded guilty on March 28, 2012. He is scheduled for sentencing on September 6, 2012.
This case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Hollenhorst.