News and Press Releases

Defendant Convicted Following Repeated Lies to Law Enforcement and in Testimony

October 2, 2009

GURMIT SINGH JASSAL, 31, a native of India, residing in British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to eight years in prison and three years of supervised release for Possession of Ecstasy with Intent to Distribute, Conspiracy to Distribute Ecstasy and Marijuana, and Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute. JASSAL was convicted in December 2008. The jury deliberated two hours following a two day jury trial. JASSAL was arrested on February 5, 2008, after he and another man were spotted by U.S. Border Patrol agents crossing the international border with Canada on foot carrying four duffle bags. At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said his sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and the need to deter others from smuggling these drugs into the United States.

According to records in the case, and testimony at trial, JASSAL and another man were spotted by surveillance cameras as they crossed the border on foot and entered the Smuggler’s Inn near Blaine, Washington, carrying duffel bags with 47 kilograms of ecstasy and more than nine kilograms of marijuana. After going to their pre-paid room, the men went to the front desk and asked the Inn’s owner to arrange a ride to the Bellingham Airport. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents followed the limousine to the airport. At the airport, a CBP officer questioned the men, who provided inconsistent answers about whether they knew each other and where they were headed. The ecstasy has a street value of about $3.1 Million. The marijuana has a street value of about $60,000.

JASSAL tried to claim at trial that he smuggled the drugs because his family had been threatened by a drug dealer in Canada. However, the specifics of his claim were implausible, inconsistent, and incredible. Moreover, during several interviews with law enforcement immediately subsequent to, and even weeks after his arrest, JASSAL made no such claims. With their verdict, the jurors rejected his story.

In asking for a significant sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Roger Rogoff noted for the court that JASSAL admitted a history of drug smuggling, writing that JASSAL “...has managed to maximize the seriousness of his offenses by lying to law enforcement, trying to evade responsibility, and blaming others.”

The case was investigated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Rogoff and Aravind Swaminathan.

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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