News and Press Releases

Defendant Admits Smuggling Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Canada

September 29, 2006

RAJINDER SINGH JOHAL, 44, of Kent, Washington, was sentenced today to six years in prison and three years of supervised release for Money Laundering. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik sentenced JOHAL to the 72 months requested by government prosecutors, noting that for every dollar that JOHAL smuggled north, there were drugs coming south. “You can’t just wash your hands and say I was not responsible for the drugs... ‘I never touched the drugs, I just moved the money.’”

JOHAL was arrested in December, 2005, following a two year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) into drug smuggling and money laundering. In a plea agreement on June 15, 2006, JOHAL admitted he smuggled $200,000-$400,000 into Canada knowing that the funds were the proceeds of the drug trade.

In addition to the prison term, JOHAL is also forfeiting three luxury vehicles to the government: A 2004 Hummer H2, a 1996 Mercedes Benz, and a 2003 BMW M3 convertible. JOHAL will also forfeit $90,508 seized from him as he tried to cross into Canada at the Peace Arch crossing, and $56,760 seized from his Kent home.

At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik also addressed the members of the Sikh community who had gathered in the courtroom in support of JOHAL. “I have seen far too much criminal activity from people in this (the Sikh) community...It’s time for people out there to put an end to what is going on in their community. This lure of easy money with drugs is destroying our community and your community.”

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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with the significant assistance of the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team (“VNET”), comprised of deputies and officers from King County Sheriff’s Department and local municipal police departments including the cities of Kent, Tukwila, Renton, and Auburn, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Y. Vogel, John J. Lulejian and Kelly Harris.

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

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