News and Press Releases


November 3, 2005

SARBJIT BASSI, 33, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada was sentenced to four years in prison today by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly for Possession of Ecstasy with Intent to Distribute. BASSI pleaded guilty on April 25, 2005.

According to the plea agreement, on January 15, 2005, BASSI attempted to cross into the United States at Blaine, Washington with a load of ecstasy and ephedrine concealed in the tractor trailer he was driving. The load contained an estimated 290,000 ecstasy pills weighing approximately 172 pounds. The ecstasy has a conservative street value of nearly $6 million. The ephedrine weighed 447 pounds. Made into methamphetamine, the ephedrine would have a street value of more than $7 million. BASSI originally tried to claim that he picked up the tractor trailer rig from the trucking company and drove straight to the border. But records from the company revealed this particular truck had left the yard a day earlier with a different driver. The company stated BASSI had not been authorized to drive this particular rig.

In asking the court for a substantial sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence Lincoln noted, "The amount of ecstasy and ephedrine involved in this case is simply staggering." Lincoln added that it is important to send a message to those who routinely enter the U.S. on business, such as truck drivers, that they cannot use "their employment as a cover to disclaim culpability."

Judge Zilly acknowledged that the four year sentence would be a heavy burden on BASSI's family, but he said he wanted to send a strong message to those who might be tempted to bring drugs into this country. "People, for whatever reason, succumb to the temptation to make easy money, and others who had nothing to do with the drugs, suffer along with them.... I think you were encouraged by some easy money to make a very foolish decision," Judge Zilly said.

The case was investigated by Special Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) assigned to the Canadian-United States border area, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence Lincoln.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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