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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Canadian Marijuana Traffickers Convicted After Trial

Defendants Face Life Sentences for Leadership Roles in Two Country Marijuana Conspiracy

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – On Wednesday, August 05, 2015, Canadian citizens Michael C. Woods and Gaetan Dinelle were convicted of multiple federal felony drug charges following a six day jury trial, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. The defendants were found guilty of membership in three separate but related conspiracies, each involving 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana destined for the United States. The jury also found both defendants guilty of being leaders of a continuing criminal enterprise (CCE), an ongoing, structured organization distributing marijuana over a period of years generating substantial income.

As a result of the CCE convictions, both Woods and Dinelle face the possibility of mandatory life imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for December 8, 2015, in Syracuse.

The evidence at trial showed that Woods, assisted by Dinelle, ran a vast international marijuana operation from Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, that operated from at least 2005 until 2008. During the trial, witnesses testified that Woods procured large quantities of marijuana from his sources in Canada and with Dinelle arranged for it to be smuggled across the border into the United States, where it was temporarily stored at various locations in Northern New York on the Akwasasne Mohawk Indian Reservation. From there the marijuana was driven by couriers who were selected and supervised by Woods and Dinelle to buyers throughout the Eastern United States.

Between 2006 and February 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $2,000,000 in currency that was marijuana proceeds and approximately 400 kilograms of marijuana from couriers working for Woods and Dinelle. Evidence during the trial included law enforcement estimates that the Woods organization distributed over 22,000 pounds of high-grade marijuana with gross wholesale receipts of $47,300,000 during the life of the conspiracy.

This prosecution in the United States followed the extradition of 15 individuals from Canada, including Woods and Dinelle, in the largest use of the extradition treaty between the two countries in a single case.

The trial witnesses included employees of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and DEA Northeast Regional Laboratory; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the New York State Police and New York State

Police Forensic Investigation Center; the Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts State Laboratory, the Warren County (New York) Sheriff’s Office, and the New Hampshire State Police Laboratory. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also provided assistance throughout the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl G. Eurenius.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 24, 2015