Brothers who Conspired to Smuggle 29 Kilos of Cocaine into Canada Convicted Following Jury Trial
Bellingham Residents Picked up Cocaine in California, Dropped it in Woods while Fleeing from RCMP and Border Patrol
Two Bellingham brothers were convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of federal felonies related to their attempt to smuggle more than 29 kilos of cocaine across the border between the U.S. and/Canada, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. Brothers JOHN EMMETT BROWN, JR., 46, and DERRICK LOUIS CARTER, 38, were each convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The jury deliberated about 10 hours following an eleven-day trial. U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman scheduled sentencing for October 28, 2016.
According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, BROWN drove to Los Angeles in November 2014 where he picked up 29 or 30 bricks of cocaine with a value in excess of $2 million. While in California, BROWN asked his brother, CARTER, to drive down I-5 to meet up with him and serve as a decoy car while he drove north. Once back in Bellingham, the men recruited other co-conspirators to carry the cocaine over the border in backpacks. Three men, BROWN and two others, crossed the border dressed in dark or camouflage clothing, and carrying smoke bombs and bear spray. Each had a backpack with multiple kilos of cocaine.
The smuggling run on November 8, 2014, was interrupted when CARTER was stopped speeding near the border by a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputy. The car smelled of pepper spray. U.S. Border Patrol agents, who had arrived to provide backup to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputy, knew that BROWN and CARTER were long-time smugglers who used bear spray to cover their tracks. The two men were known to frequent the area where CARTER was contacted by law enforcement. Other U.S. Border Patrol personnel went to the border, and those agents spotted three figures running north from the border in that area. They alerted RCMP about the apparent smuggling operation. Two of the border-crossers were later arrested by RCMP in the vicinity of three backpacks filled with cocaine, bear spray, mobile phones, camouflage gear, a Kevlar helmet, and a firearm. The third smuggler -- BROWN -- got away.
The various items left abandoned at the border were linked to BROWN via information on the recovered mobile phones as well as the assistance of witnesses who were present before and during the smuggling operation. In June 2015, BROWN and CARTER were arrested on federal charges.
Due to the large amount of cocaine, the men face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years to life in prison.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) with critical assistance from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Bellingham Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Health Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Erin H. Becker and S. Kate Vaughan.