Canadian Who Arranged Drug Smuggling Helicopter Flights Across Northern Border Pleads Guilty
Defendant Fought Extradition for Years; Now faces 5-40 Years in Prison
A Canadian national who was extradited in January 2018 in connection with a 2008-2009 international drug smuggling scheme, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. COLIN HUGH MARTIN, 46, from British Columbia, Canada, was indicted in 2010. At his sentencing hearing on June 29, 2018, MARTIN faces a mandatory minimum five years in prison and up to 40 years in prison. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than ten years in prison. The ultimate sentence will be determined by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik.
According to records filed in the case, MARTIN conspired with others to transport cocaine north across the Canadian border via helicopter. The cargo coming south was ecstasy or BC Bud marijuana. MARTIN gained a prominent role in the cross-border smuggling conspiracy following a March 2008 seizure of MDMA in Tukwila and of cocaine in California. MARTIN purchased and leased various helicopters and recruited pilots to fly the illegal drugs across the border. MARTIN recruited people to load and off load the helicopters. MARTIN and his coconspirators used encrypted Blackberry phones and code names to communicate.
The plea agreement connects MARTIN to these drug seizures: 83 kilos of cocaine that was seized in Utah in February 2009, on its way to a helicopter transport site in rural northeastern Washington; 190 kilos of marijuana flown into eastern Washington; 20 kilos of cocaine seized in Ontario, California in February 2009; and 79 kilograms of marijuana from Canada that was seized by agents from a helicopter that landed in Idaho on March 5, 2009.
Co-defendant Sean William Doak was sentenced in 2016 to seven years in prison. Other co-conspirators received sentences ranging from 18 months to ten years in prison based on their level of involvement in the drug ring.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Utah Highway Patrol.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Vogel with assistance from the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.