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Press Release

Opium Smuggler Sentenced To 42 Months' Imprisonment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced that Abdolnasser Mahmoudikanesbi, formerly of Gatineau, Quebec, was sentenced today to serve 42 months’ imprisonment by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker. Mahmoudikanesbi pled guilty in February 2020 to possession with intent to distribute opium. Upon release, Mahmoudikanesbi will be supervised for 3 years.

          On December 7, 2019, Mahmoudikanesbi crossed into the United States at Sault Ste. Marie, where he encountered Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Mahmoudikanesbi told CBP that he was transporting towels, but an x-ray of his rental truck revealed items in the cargo area that were inconsistent with towels. Inside the vehicle, investigators discovered approximately 100 kilograms of unrefined opium paste.

          Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working with Canadian authorities, then took over the investigation. HSI determined the opium had come from Pakistan via an international shipping container with a false bottom. After the shipping container made it to the Port of Montreal, Mahmoudikanesbi and an associate cut the false bottom out of the container and moved the drugs to a rented warehouse in Montreal. Mahmoudikanesbi then had the opium put on a rental truck, which he drove across Ontario and into the United States.

          “Trafficking illegal narcotics across international borders is a quintessential federal concern and federal law enforcement remains ever vigilant at our borders, whether at the southwest border or the bridge at Sault Ste. Marie,” commented U.S. Attorney Birge.

          “HSI’s core mission is to prosecute cross border criminal activity and bring to bear its unique investigative authorities and international resources,” said Vance Callender, special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. “This case in particular and by its very nature, stretches across the globe and impacts several countries. Global criminal networks attempt to exploit international borders for profit daily. These types of investigations are some of the most complex known to law enforcement.”

          “CBP officers are constantly on the lookout for smugglers and criminals attempting to cross our borders,” said Port Director Patrick Wilson. “Mr. Mahmoudikanesbi’s sentencing today demonstrates the important relationships we have with our federal law enforcement partners in seeking justice.”

          The case was investigated by HSI, CBP, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Theodore J. Greeley and Kristin M. Pinkston represented the United States.


Updated July 17, 2020

Drug Trafficking