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LEADER OF CANADIAN DRUG SMUGGLING ORGANIZATION GETS 20 YEAR PRISON TERM
Coconspirator Describes How Shannon “Hired and Fired” and “Provided Product”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2009

ROBERT J. SHANNON, 39, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was sentenced late today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Marijuana, and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said, “this conspiracy was a terrible offense against the people of both the U.S. and Canada. You can’t run a drug organization like this without scary, violent people around you.”

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 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.

SHANNON’s co-defendant Devron D. Quast, 38, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, pleaded guilty last November 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. At today’s sentencing hearing, Quast testified that he joined SHANNON in the drug conspiracy in 2005, and was involved in various “programs” -- methods of smuggling BC Bud south into the U.S. and cocaine north into Canada. Quast said SHANNON could “hire and fire” members of the drug conspiracy, and said SHANNON had fired him at one point. Quast said SHANNON was the one who “provided the product” to be smuggled.

SHANNON remains incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center at Sea-Tac, Washington, until the Bureau of Prisons determines where he will serve his time. Should SHANNON seek treaty transfer to Canada to serve the prison time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will oppose treaty transfer, since the criminal conduct in question strikes at the sanctity of the border between the two countries.

“Criminals who seek to profit by attacking the border security of the U.S. and Canada, should not be able to further exploit their citizenship to avoid paying for their crimes,” said United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan. “In cases like this one, my office will vigorously oppose treaty transfer of defendants, so that they will serve the full sentence ordered by the court.”

“This defendant, as part of a violent criminal organization, smuggled tens of thousands of pounds of narcotics into the U.S. and Canada,” said Leigh Winchell, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office investigation in Seattle. “The severity of today’s sentence shows the serious consequences drug traffickers face for their actions. There is no glory or honor in living a lifestyle of drugs, gang violence and deception in order to turn a quick personal profit. ICE maintains its resolve to aggressively investigate these types of cases and to stem the flow of drugs into our communities.”

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, 39 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. Quast is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

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 Assistant United States Attorney Douglas B. Whalley and 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.

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