Gregory Mark German Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 29, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, GREGORY MARK GERMAN, a 27-year-old resident of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Sentencing has been set for March 19, 2012. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph E. Thaggard, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Early on the morning of April 26, 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents encountered a pickup truck bearing Canadian license plates south of the Canadian/United States border and in the vicinity of Malta. The agents took the driver of the vehicle into custody. Hereafter, the driver will be referred to as the "confidential source" or CS.
The CS was interviewed by a Border Patrol agent and admitted the CS was a member of an organized criminal enterprise that smuggled cocaine from the United States into Canada. The CS agreed to acted as a CS and advise the authorities about the unlawful activities of the organization.
Special Agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and a host of other law enforcement agencies in Canada, Montana, and California joined the investigation and participated in interviews of the CS. Ultimately, over the course of multiple interviews, the CS stated the CS had worked for the organization since late 2009. The CS stated the CS' role in the organization was to obtain large, multi-kilograms shipments of cocaine from sources located on the west coast of the United States, primarily Southern California, then smuggle the cocaine into Canada along isolated stretches of the border in Eastern Montana. The CS admitted the CS had just delivered 147 kilograms of cocaine to a member of the organization in Canada and was in the process of driving back to California when apprehended by the agents.
Over the course of the interviews, the CS admitted the CS smuggled approximately 12 separate loads of cocaine from Southern California to Canada via the border in Eastern Montana between December 2009 and April 26, 2011. Collectively, the CS stated the CS had smuggled approximately 916 kilograms of cocaine from Southern California to Canada during the trips. The CS also stated the CS had smuggled hundreds of thousands of tablets of the drug MDMA (Ecstasy) from Canada to Los Angeles during the course of the conspiracy.
The CS said that, in March 2010, two other members of the organization were arrested by the RCMP in Saskatchewan, Canada in possession of 151 kilograms of cocaine the CS had delivered to Canada on behalf of the organization.
During the course of the April 26, 2011 interview, the CS said the CS was supposed to obtain another 60 kilograms of cocaine in Los Angeles, California the following day and deliver the cocaine to Canada. The CS agreed to assist the authorities in intercepting the cocaine.
On April 28, 2011, the CS, acting at the direction of members of the organization, met GERMAN at a location in the Los Angeles, California area. The meeting was monitored by members of HSI and the DEA. GERMAN delivered approximately 35 kilograms of cocaine to the CS. After GERMAN departed, the CS gave the cocaine to the agents. Forensic testing of the cocaine revealed it was, in fact, a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.
On May 2, 2011, the agents provided the CS with fake cocaine (containing ten ounces of actual cocaine1) to be delivered to his contacts in Canada. The CS was under the constant supervision of Canadian and United States law enforcement officers in order to ensure that none of the fake cocaine (or the actual cocaine contained therein) fell into the hands of unauthorized people. On that date, the CS delivered the fake cocaine to another member of the organization at spot in Canada north of Malta. Once the fake cocaine was delivered to the organization, the RCMP had it under constant surveillance until a vehicle stop was performed in British Columbia and the fake cocaine was seized. None of the fake cocaine or the small amount of actual cocaine contained therein was distributed to anyone unauthorized to receive it.
On May 4, 2011, acting at the direction of a supervisor in the organization, the CS received approximately 149 kilograms from another source of supply in a transaction that occurred near Los Angeles, California. GERMAN was not involved in that transaction, which
HSI and DEA agents. Forensic testing of the cocaine revealed it was, in fact, a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.
On May 8, 2011, the CS delivered 149 kilograms of fake cocaine (containing ten ounces of actual cocaine2) to a member of the organization in a meeting that occurred in Canada, north of the border in Montana. Again the CS was under surveillance by DEA and HSI agents at all times while he was in possession of the fake cocaine in the United States. He was under surveillance by members of the RCMP at all times he had the fake cocaine in Canada. Once the fake cocaine was delivered to the CS' accomplice in Canada, the accomplice was under surveillance by the RCMP to ensure none of the fake cocaine was distributed. Once the accomplice delivered the fake cocaine to a warehouse in Vancouver, British Columbia, the RCMP searched the warehouse and recovered the fake cocaine intact. None of the fake cocaine or the small amount of actual cocaine contained therein was distributed to anyone unauthorized to receive it.
On September 28, 2011, the CS, acting at the direction of a supervisor in the organization, received approximately 30 kilograms of cocaine from a source of supply in the vicinity of Los Angeles, California. GERMAN was not involved in that transaction. Forensic testing of the cocaine revealed it was, in fact, a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.
On October 1, 2011, the CS delivered 30 kilograms of fake cocaine (with ten ounces of actual cocaine3) to a member of the organization in a transaction that occurred in Canada, north of the border above Opheim. Again, the CS was under surveillance by United States law enforcement agents at all times while he was in the United States and in possession of the fake cocaine. The CS was under surveillance by the RCMP at all times while he possessed the fake cocaine in Canada.
The member of the organization provided the CS with approximately 100,000 tablets of Ecstasy; the Ecstasy was to be delivered by the CS to a person in the United States. Once the organization member departed, the RCMP seized the Ecstasy.
The RCMP kept the organization member under constant surveillance while he possessed the fake cocaine. The RCMP followed the man for period, then stopped his vehicle and seized the cocaine. None of the fake cocaine or the small amount of actual cocaine contained therein was distributed to anyone unauthorized to receive it.
In August 2011, the grand jury returned its indictment in this matter and an arrest warrant was issued for GERMAN;
On October 7, 2011, GERMAN flew to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he planned to relocate. The authorities learned he was in the United States and arrested him at the airport in connection with the indictment. When interviewed, GERMAN stated:
• He was a Canadian citizen who had received raining in the field of pharmacy through a Canadian college;
• GERMAN became acquainted with a member of the organization whom he learned was involved in drug trafficking on behalf of the organization. The organization member had connections to drug traffickers in Los Angeles. The organization member and his associates were responsible for transporting cocaine from Los Angeles to Canada;
• In early January 2011, the organization member persuaded GERMAN to move to Los Angeles. There, GERMAN was to use his pharmaceutical training to test the quality of cocaine delivered to the organization;
• GERMAN arrived in Los Angles in January 2011 and began to receive directions from the organization via secure electronic communications. Pursuant to that program, GERMAN initially picked up large sums of United States currency on behalf of the organization. The organization used the money to facilitate the purchase of unlawful controlled substances to be shipped to Canada;
• In April 2011, GERMAN's contact in the organization instructed GERMAN to take a sum of cash, obtain a load of cocaine from a third party, and deliver the drugs to a person who, ultimately, turned out to be the CS. After obtaining the cocaine from the third party, GERMAN tested its purity, then delivered it to the CS;
• GERMAN knew the cocaine was destined to be delivered to Vancouver, Canada and would probably change hands at least once or twice before crossing the border between the United States and Canada; and
• Not long after he provided the cocaine to the CS, GERMAN learned from his contact in the organization that the cocaine had been seized by the authorities. GERMAN then returned to Canada, where he assisted his contact in the organization to recruit drug runners for the organization.
Brock Ernest Palfrey, 25, of Silver Star, British Columbia, Canada, Troy Ernest Swanson, 25, and William Bruce Larsen, 51, both from Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada, have been charged by Canadian authorities with importation of cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine, and participating in a criminal organization. Ronald Charles Learning, 28, of Golden, British Columbia, Canada, has also been charged in Canada with conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to export ecstasy. All four defendants were arrested in British Columbia in October 2011 in Canada and are before the courts in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada.
The great state of Montana sprawls over 145,000 square miles with an estimated population of 917,000 people - that is six people per square mile. The vastness of the State of Montana pales in comparison to the vastness of Canada - both Montana and Canada's wide empty expanses make their borders ripe targets for criminal mischief. The cases brought in Montana and in Canada are truly exemplary examples of cross border cooperation. The excellent work of the RCMP, the DEA and ICE in this case has truly made an impact on both sides of the border. My office looks forward to a continued partnership with our friends in the north to stymie the flow of illegal drugs into and from the United States and Canada." United States Attorney Michael W. Cotter.
GERMAN faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life, a $4,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and a host of other law enforcement agencies in Canada, Montana, and California.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.
1The inclusion of the small amount of actual cocaine was done at the request of Canadian authorities and in conformity with Canadian law.
2Again, such was done at the request of the Canadian authorities.
3Again, at the request of the Canadian authorities.