CANADIAN TRUCKER CONVICTED OF CONSPIRACY TO DISTRIBUTE MARIJUANA
Big Rig Owner had $1.2 Million in BC Bud Stashed in Hidden Compartment Under Trailer Floor
COREY WIRSZ, 26, of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, was convicted late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle of Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana. The jury deliberated about a day and a half following a week-long trial. WIRSZ attempted to smuggle more than 350 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1.2 million across the border at Blaine, Washington on August 2, 2007. The Conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum five year prison sentence, and up to forty years in prison. WIRSZ is not in custody pending sentencing on July 11, 2008.
During the trial, the key question for the jury was whether WIRSZ knew the marijuana was in the tractor trailer rig. Prosecutors presented key evidence showing how the trailer had been modified after WIRSZ purchased it so that the floor was five inches higher. Prosecutors showed x-ray scans from the border that revealed the addition of “scissor lifts” under the floor. Phone records revealed that WIRSZ had been on the phone with “a dispatcher he met in a bar,” some fifty times on the day he tried to get across the border with marijuana in the hidden compartment. Efforts to locate this mysterious “dispatcher” have been unsuccessful. WIRSZ’ attorney tried to claim WIRSZ had intended to purchase a different trailer, but the company had delivered this trailer to him. The defense tried to claim that, unknown to WIRSZ, a drug trafficking organization had left the marijuana in the rig, and over the five months WIRSZ owned the trailer never attempted to retrieve the drugs. Prosecutors countered with records showing that after WIRSZ paid $13,000 in cash for the trailer, he did not use it for trucking for months, allowing it to sit empty. Prosecutors told the jury it was during this time, when the trailer was not out earning any money for WIRSZ’ trucking business, that he had it outfitted with the secret compartment. Jurors rejected the defense case, finding WIRSZ was a knowing member of the criminal conspiracy.
The case was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Crisham and Norman Barbosa.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.