News and Press Releases

CANADIAN DRUG IMPORTER PLEADS GUILTY TO MARIJUANA TRAFFICKING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2008

MICHAEL DUDAS, 35, of British Columbia, Canada, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to charges of conspiracy to import marijuana in violation of federal law. This felony offense is punishable by not less than five years and up to 40 years imprisonment, a $2,000,000 fine, and a period of federal supervised release to follow imprisonment of not less than four years.

In pleading guilty, DUDAS admitted that during 2004 through 2005, he joined with others in efforts to smuggle marijuana into the United States from Canada via helicopter. In furtherance of this scheme, DUDAS traveled from British Columbia, Canada, to Ohio, where he paid $33,000 cash for a Robinson R-22 helicopter to be used to transport the marijuana.

DUDAS thereafter met with a pilot in Canada who agreed to fly the helicopter, and with off-loaders who agreed to receive the marijuana loads in the United States. All of the above participants were Canadians.

Between January 2005 and September 2005, their were several successful deliveries of marijuana into the U.S. from Canada via the helicopter. On each occasion, the helicopter landed in a remote landing zone in the National Forest, near Darrington, Washington. The marijuana was contained in large duffle bags strapped to the outside of the helicopter. The marijuana was off-loaded and distributed to others. DUDAS helped organize and coordinate these marijuana deliveries. DUDAS also compensated others involved in this unlawful activity. Two marijuana loads ended up being seized and confiscated by law enforcement during 2005. In excess of 100 kilograms of marijuana were imported into the United States by DUDAS and others working with him.

The pilot and off-loaders were apprehended and have already been sentenced in related cases. The aircraft was also seized and confiscated. DUDAS was the subject of extradition proceedings in Canada before electing to waive extradition and appear in the United States. DUDAS remains in U.S. custody.

DUDAS is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour on September 19, 2008.

This case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Blaine, Washington.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ronald J. Friedman and Susan M. Roe.

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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