News and Press Releases

70-Year-Old Man Caught at Border after Unusual Answers to Inspector

January 14, 2010

AMAR KUMAR DUTT, 70, of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Ecstasy. DUTT was 69-years-old when he was arrested May 29, 2009, after he attempted to cross into the U.S. from Canada at Blaine, Washington, with more than 40,000 ecstasy pills in plastic bags hidden in the gas tank of his minivan. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly said DUTT had smuggled a “tremendous amount of drugs.” Noting DUTT’s advanced age and health problems, Judge Zilly said, “If you were 25 years-old this is not the sentence I would give you."

According to the plea agreement, DUTT was attempting to cross into the United States when he told the inspector that he was on a trip to look for “healing crystals.” The answer roused suspicion with the inspector who sent DUTT on for additional inspection. A drug dog alerted to the gas tank of DUTT’s Ford minivan, where inspectors found more than 40,000 ecstasy pills, in plastic bags, floating in the gas.

At sentencing, DUTT, who is originally from the South Pacific, told Judge Zilly, “I feel very bad... very embarrassed to be here. I have always admired the U.S. and its people.... The thing that hurts me the most is that I have betrayed my friend (the U.S.). I feel terribly, terribly bad.”

DUTT’s attorney told the court that her client had never been in trouble before now and had worked for more than 30 years as a mechanic. Three years ago he met someone who got him involved in the smuggling scheme. DUTT’s attorney said he had always dreamed of being financially successful. DUTT was after “a little adventure... a little excitement,” attorney Paula Deutsch told the court.

In sentencing documents prosecutors pointed out that as an older, soft-spoken man with no criminal history DUTT was for a time, successfully used as a “mule” by drug smugglers. “Drug trafficking organizations, and the innocent-looking couriers they often recruit to do their dirty work, need to know that even people like Mr. Dutt will pay a price if they are caught in the act of smuggling large quantities of drugs into the United States,” Assistant United States Attorney Michael Scoville wrote in his sentencing memo.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worked on the case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Scoville.

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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