United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Canadian Who Served As Cocaine Connection Between BC Gang And Sinaloa Cartel Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison
Defendant Lived in LA and Transported Kilos of Cocaine from Cartels to other Smugglers
A Canadian who helped coordinate an elaborate cocaine trafficking and transportation scheme involving the Sinaloa Cartel and a criminal drug distribution ring in British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. MARIO JOSEPH FENIANOS, 39, of Los Angeles, California was arrested in April 2011 following a year-long investigation of a multi-national drug trafficking organization. At the sentencing hearing Judge John C. Coughenour said FENIANOS “was responsible for too much cocaine for any lower sentence.”
The investigation into the international drug trafficking ring began in May 2010. Using court authorized wire taps, investigators with DEA and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) determined the drug ring was transporting and distributing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and 100 to 200 kilos of cocaine every month. The marijuana was smuggled into the U.S. from Canada and distributed across the country to California, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and New Jersey among other locations. Proceeds from the marijuana distribution were used to purchase cocaine in Southern California. The cocaine was transported to British Columbia for distribution. The smuggling organization had ties to members of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang in British Columbia, Canada.
FENIANOS worked directly for a violent organized crime group in Canada and was responsible for coordinating the purchase, distribution and transportation of the cocaine from Southern California. Ultimately, FENIANOS was involved in arranging for 100s of kilograms of cocaine that were smuggled into Canada. On April 8, 2011, FENIANOS and a co-defendant provided 96 kilos of cocaine to someone they thought was a pilot who would fly it into Western Washington, where it would be later smuggled into Canada – in fact the pilot was an undercover agent with DEA.
FENIANOS was arrested April 26, 2011, with 30 kilos of cocaine in his car. At his LA residence agents located one pound of crack cocaine, more than $100,000 in cash and a loaded semi-automatic Ruger. FENIANOS’ co-schemer, Michael Dubois, will be sentenced next month.
In asking for a significant sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court that FENIANOS “also has ties to both violent Canadian organized crime and the Mexican-based Sinaloa Drug Cartel. Clearly, this sort of transnational drug trafficking poses considerable danger to communities in the United States and Canada in which [the drugs] are distributed, and the corruption and violence associated with such trafficking has an undeniable negative impact within the United States, Canada and Mexico.”
Over the course of the investigation investigators seized more than $2 million and 136 kilograms of cocaine.
Last week, three other co-conspirators were sentenced. Jacob Burdick, 34, of Marysville, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Michael Murphy, 62, and Pamela Marie Murphy, 58, of Penn Valley, California, were sentenced to 12 years in prison and 18 months in prison respectively.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by DEA Offices – Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Fresno, Los Angeles and New Jersey; ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations - Seattle and Sacramento; Customs and Border Protection – Office of Air & Marine; King County Sheriff’s Department; Seattle Police Department; Washington State Patrol; Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force; and the Bureau Of Narcotics Enforcement (California).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vince Lombardi and Jeff Backhus.