Canadian Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Ecstasy Smuggling Conspiracy
Defendant Carried Firearm in one Smuggling Attempt–Denies He Fired Gun in a Second Thwarted Smuggling Operation
A Canadian who smuggled ecstasy (MDMA) into the U.S. by hiking across rugged areas of the northern border was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to seven years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. NATHAN HALL, 41, was identified as the second smuggler in an unsuccessful attempt to bring more than 20 kilos of ecstasy into the U.S. in April 2013. HALL was identified by his co-defendant, Border Patrol agents, and information in a backpack dropped at the scene. Authorities believe HALL was the second suspect who fired a shot when confronted by agents. HALL denies he was the gunman but admits that he did carry a firearm on an earlier smuggling run in March 2013. The presence of the firearm strapped to his thigh was captured by a trail camera near the border. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted HALL “has a history of chronic lying, using fake ID, and ignoring court orders.”
According to records filed in the case, HALL was a member of a conspiracy that transported ecstasy in backpacks by hiking over rough rural terrain at the border. The ecstasy was then transported to California for distribution. On a smuggling run in April 2013 near Sumas, Washington, two smugglers wearing camouflage clothing were confronted by Border Patrol Agents. One smuggler, Jeffrey Laviolette, was taken into custody and ultimately sentenced to ten years in prison. The second smuggler fired a shot, dropped his backpack, and ran back into Canada. The backpack contained identification documents with HALL’s photo but a fake name. HALL was later arrested in Canada. The process of extraditing HALL from Canada took more than five years. In November 2018, HALL pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute MDMA and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense. HALL continues to deny he is the smuggler who fired the shot but admits carrying a firearm previously.
HALL will likely be deported following his prison term. He can petition for treaty transfer back to Canada.
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 Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine, Coast Guard Investigative Services, and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Abbotsford Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Vogel and Marie Dalton.