HIGH LEVEL CANADIAN DRUG SMUGGLER PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACY
Defendant Allegedly Arranged Distribution for the Hells Angels
ROBERT J. SHANNON, 38, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Marijuana, and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. When SHANNON is sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on March 13, 2009, he faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison up to life in prison. At today’s plea hearing Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell told the court he plans to seek a sentence “substantially above the mandatory minimum” because of the significant reach of the drug conspiracy, the large quantities of drugs involved, and SHANNON’s high level of leadership.
According to the indictment originally filed in the case, SHANNON was in charge of distributing the narcotics on behalf of the Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle gang and others. SHANNON allegedly directed the smuggling activities. Drugs were hidden inside hollowed out logs on trucks, within the false walls of cargo containers and vehicles, within loads of commercial lumber and beauty bark, inside large PVC pipes, and within the interior of a propane tanker. Some loads were carried on foot across the international border between the United States and Canada.
Last month SHANNON’s co-defendant Devron D. Quast, 38, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Marijuana and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. Quast, the former General Manager of Don Quast Hyundai, oversaw the day to day operations of the drug transportation. Quast is scheduled for sentencing on March 6, 2009. Both men remain incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center at Sea-Tac, Washington and will likely seek treaty transfer to Canada following their sentencing hearing.
SHANNON and Quast were arrested in June 2008, following a three year investigation that involved undercover officers and resulted in the seizure of more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine, 7,000 pounds of BC Bud and about $3.5 million. To date, 40 defendants have been charged in connection with the investigation. Twelve of them are Canadian. Some of the defendants are from as far away as Iowa, Illinois, and Ontario, Canada,
“Our priorities are keeping drugs off our streets and dismantling the violent criminal networks that profit from narcotics trafficking,” said Leigh Winchell, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in Seattle. “ICE remains committed to aggressively investigating this type of activity.”
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with significant support from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell. Mr. Cornell is a Deputy Snohomish County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute drug cases in federal court.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.