News and Press Releases

Smuggled Hundreds of Thousands of Pills Over the Border and on to Midwest

April 9, 2010

NEN ANGEL CRUCES, 23, a former Vancouver, BC, resident now residing in Daly City, California was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and two years of supervised release for Possession of BZP with Intent to Distribute. CRUCES was arrested on June 26, 2009, at a Bellingham storage facility. CRUCES was connected to a storage unit that contained 26 kilos of BZP and ecstasy (MDMA). CRUCES was indicted July 15, 2009, and pleaded guilty November 20, 2009. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones told him, “This Court considers BZP to be a very dangerous drug. If you walk around the city of Seattle, you will see the many young people and kids who are suffering from addiction to drugs as a result of their use of ecstasy and BZP. By bringing in hundreds of thousands of pills into this country, you bear some responsibility for that.”

According to records in the case, CRUCES was part of a conspiracy bringing drugs across the border from Canada, storing them in Washington State, and then taking them by train to the Chicago area for distribution. In April 2009, authorities learned that CRUCES had made a dozen trips across the border to the U.S. between August 2008 and April 2009 in tandem with another known conspirator, Krysta Edwards. Edwards had been given a Ford Explorer with a hidden compartment in December 2008, and began smuggling pills across the border – about 50,000 each load. CRUCES would cross the border at the same general time as Edwards and meet her at a storage facility, where they would store the pills until they had a load of 100,000 pills. CRUCES would pack the pills in 100,000 loads and transport them via Amtrak to Chicago, and then by limo to Detroit for distribution. CRUCES would then fly back to Seattle. He would be paid his expenses and several thousand dollars for his smuggling activities. CRUCES also arranged for storage facilities and delivered cash proceeds of the drug business to co-conspirators in Canada.

In asking for a nine year prison sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham wrote to the court about the volume of drugs smuggled and the damage they do to young people. “One concern in particular is that “rave” or “party” drugs such as BZP and MDMA are typically marketed to, and consumed by, young adults and teens. The drug load seized from Cruces on June 26, 2009, was destined for a vulnerable segment of society – one less likely to fully appreciate the risks of BZP, particularly in combination with other drugs and alcohol. The load contained over 50,000 pills, which equates to over 50,000 doses of the drug. Cruces’s mass importation of illegal narcotics into the United States, in which he engaged for over six months, has had far-reaching consequences,” Ms. Crisham wrote in her sentencing memo.

CRUCES’ co-defendant, Krysta Edwards, was sentenced last month to five years in prison.

“Today’s prison sentence is a reminder of the serious consequences drug traffickers face for trying to bring illicit drugs into our communities,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle. “ICE remains committed to dismantling the international drug trade while ensuring that those who are involved don’t benefit financially.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Seattle Police Department all worked on this case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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