ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: U.S. Border Patrol

Chinese exports case lands in Spokane

A Canadian man suspected of sending United States defense materials to China is in jail in Spokane.

Kevin Zhang, alias Zhao Wei Zhang, 41, was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol near Metaline Falls on Monday. He’d been wanted since January 2011 on a sealed warrant in federal court in San Diego that accuses him of conspiring to send devices used in tactical missiles and drones to the Chinese.

The charge of conspiracy to export defense articles without a license accuses Zhang, who is a naturalized Canadian citizen living in Calgary, of finding U.S. citizens to legally purchase gyroscopes and send them to China or send them to Canada, where they would then be shipped to China. Zhang has family in China, according to court documents.

Gyroscopes are classified defense materials, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of State. Though available for purchase in the U.S., shipping the material abroad requires a license. U.S. policy prohibits exports of such materials to China.

Investigators say Zhang contacted a man in San Diego on April 6, 2010, and discussed purchasing Gyroscopes “at a premium price for the purpose of circumventing United States export laws and illegally shipping the Gyroscopes to China,” according to court documents.

Zhang also emailed an unnamed co-conspirator and client in China the next day and instructed him to find an export/import agent who does not “play by the rules” to help them get the Gyroscopes into China, the indictment alleges.

Zhang sent another email to the man in San Diego on May 25, 2010, suggesting that he find someone to smuggle the Gyroscopes on an airliner. An agreement was finalized on Oct. 1, 2010, for Zhang to ship three Gyroscopes to China in exchange for $21,000, according to the indictment.

A federal grand jury in Southern California indicted Zhang on Jan. 14, 2011.

He was booked into jail Tuesday about 8:20 p.m. and ordered to stay there to await transportation to California after he appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

Court documents say Zhang faces a maximum of 5 years in prison if convicted.

Is the Border Patrol racial profiling?

Federal agents have increased their presence in the Spokane area in what some believe is an overreaching effort to combat illegal immigration at a local level.

Officials with the U.S. Border Patrol say they’re not specifically targeting illegal immigrants and that their presence at police stops in the Spokane County area is part of an ongoing partnership with local law enforcement.

But a Seattle-based immigrant rights group alleges border patrol agents are responding to calls even when their presence is not necessary, simply because they suspect someone may be an illegal immigrant.

“Only people who are Spanish speakers or are perceived to be Spanish speakers are the ones being questioned,” said Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Read the rest of my story here.

3 busted near border w/ 58 lbs of coke

Three suspected drug smugglers have been arrested near the U.S.-Canadian border in Pend Oreille County with 58 pounds of cocaine.

Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Rodriguez, 26, and Jose Luis Alfredo Castro-Meji, 25, were booked into the Spokane County Jail early today after being arrested near Metaline Falls late Monday.

Border agents tracked down a third suspect, Jose Galicias, in the woods this afternoon, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Gonzalez-Rodriguez and Castro-Meji appeared in U.S. District Court today and were ordered to remain in jail.

Officials valued the cocaine at $585,860.

As this story explains, cocaine is often smuggled through Eastern Washington in exchange for Ecstasy and marijuana from Canada.

In October 2010, border agents found 310 pounds of Ecstasy worth more than $9.3 million near Curlew. A month before, a Canadian man caught with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border was sentenced to about four years in prison.

In June 2010, a Canadian man arrested in Washington with 80 pounds of cocaine was sentenced to five years in prison.

Then in June 2011, two Canadian men were arrested with 159 pounds of Ecstasy that authorities allege they were trying to smuggle into the United States. Those men are awaiting trial.

Also awaiting trial is an elderly man who lived near the Canadian border in Ferry County and is accused of being a major drug trafficker.

Feds find dead body while snowmobiling

Federal agents found a dead body while training with snowmobiles last week in Pend Oreille County.

U.S. Border Patrol agents were in the mountains northeast of Sullivan Lake when they found the body of a adult male, the Pend Oreille Sheriff's Office announced Monday.

Deputies say the man is a 61-year-old from Los Angeles. His identity is being withheld until his family is notified of his death.

Investigators believe the man left his vehicle on foot and died and hypothermia, the sheriff's office said.

100 lbs of meth, $20k seized at border

About 100 pounds of methamphetamine and $20,000 was found near the Canadian border on Sunday. 

Border patrol agents found the drugs and cash in three backpacks and a duffel bag in a field at the border just west of the Danville port of entry.

The seizures “were the result of effective tactical planning and utilization of advanced surveillance technology,” according to a news release.

“This seizure is yet another example of the good work exercised daily by our highly trained Border Patrol Agents,” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the Spokane Border Patrol Sector. “Our surveillance and tactical coordination capabilities played a pivotal role in the discovery and seizure of the cash and illicit contraband.”

No other details were available. The Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating.

The seizure rivals the discovery of 310 pounds of Ecstasy near the border in October 2010.

Canadian cocaine smuggler gets 4 years

A Canadian man caught with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border in February has been sentenced to about four years in prison.

Jonathan Darren “Grundy” Smith, 40, is to serve 51 months for possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Smith faced 10 years in prison, but his lawyer asked for a reduced sentence because Smith was not to be involved in the distribution of the cocaine once he smuggled it into Canada.

Smith had traveled into the United States to obtain the cocaine when a border patrol agent saw him on the east side of Highway 395 on Feb. 16 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway” near the Laurier border crossing, according to court documents.

Police found 30 packages of cocaine in two backpacks.

Investigators believes Smith, who played on the Canadian Rugby Junior National team in 1990 and 1994, is the same Grundy described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with an informant in 2009.

Smith's father was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding, Calif., and Smith has traveled around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico. He was living at his brother's condominium in Whistler, B.C., before his arrest.

Prosecutors had objected to a reduced sentencing for a mitigating role, saying that Smith's conduct was neither minimum nor minor.

“The cocaine could not be distributed in Canada without first being exported from the United States into Canada. In keeping with the critical nature of this role, it was not left to chance but was assigned to the an experienced and well compensated smuggler,” according to court documents prepared by prosecutors. “As a result, the Defendant’s conduct would not have been substantially less culpable than that of the average co-participant in the presumed, uncharged conspiracy.”

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush sentenced Smith to 51 months in prison on Friday. He remains in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison.

Past coverage:

March 24: Cocaine suspect already on DEA's radar

Canadian cocaine smuggler pleads guilty

A Canadian man suspected of being a major international drug smuggler has pleaded guilty to a federal cocaine charge.

Jonathan Darren “Grundy” Smith, 39, faces 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in August.
Smith was arrested near the border Feb. 16 with two backpacks containing 71 pounds of cocaine.

Investigators believes he's the same Grundy described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with an informant in 2009.

Smith's father was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding, Calif., and Smith has traveled around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico. He was living at his brother's condominium in Whistler, B.C., before his arrest.

Smith pleaded guilty June 3 to possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. He's at the Spokane County Jail awaiting sentencing.
  

Cocaine suspect already on DEA’s radar

A Canadian man arrested with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border is believed to be a major drug smuggler who's been on the Drug Enforcement Administration's radar since 2009, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Family members of Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, wrote letters to the court describing Smith as a former professional rugby player known as Grundy.

The DEA suspects Smith is the same “Grundy” described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with a drug informant in 2009, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Ohms said Wednesday at Smith's bail hearing.

Smith matches the physical description of Grundy, and aspects of his personal life match what the informant told drug investigators, Ohms said. Smith also has a “Grundy” tattoo.

Ohms said the informant described four or five drug smuggling trips conducted by Grundy, including the transport of Ecstasy into the United States by foot, then to Redding, Calif., by automobile, and the transportation of 11 kilos of cocaine from the United States into Canada.

Grundy's father also was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding. He served 60 months in prison, Ohms said. Grundy also “has done extensive traveling” including trips to Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico.

“The inference is that this defendant is, in fact, occupied as a smuggler,” Ohms said. “That's what he does. This is not an isolated incident.”

Should Smith be allowed to return to Canada, “he's going to be subject to answering to that organization, and perhaps that organization won't want him to return. Because why would they? He might cooperate,” Ohms said.

Smith's lawyer, Jeff Niesen, emphasized that Smith has “serious medical problems” that likely won't be address at the Spokane County Jail.

“It would have been nice if he had been married. It would have been nice if he had 15 kids,” but he's still entitled to be considered for pre-trial release, Niesen said, noting that Smith has never been accused of violence.

Smith, who played on the Canadian Rugby Junior National team in 1990 and 1994, has been at the Spokane County Jail since his arrest Feb. 16.

U.S Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno's decision on whether to hold Smith without bond has not yet been filed.

Canadian cocaine suspect asks for bail

A Canadian man arrested with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border last month will ask a judge to grant him bail next week.

Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, filed a motion this week through his attorney, Jeffrey Niesen, asking to be released from jail pending trial. A hearing is scheduled next Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

 Smith is a former professional rugby player who played on the Canadian Rugby Junior National team in 1990 and 1994.

Known as Darren or “Grundy,”.Smith's family said in letters that he is in “very poor health” after many concussions and a stroke five years ago that left him disabled on the left side of his body.

“His devotion to the togetherness of our family and his commitment to creating meaningful connections with our family is incredible,” a cousin wrote.

Wrote Smith's uncle, “If we had more people like Darren then there would be less strife in the world and more understanding.”

Smith worked construction for 16 years before suffering the stroke in March 2006. His criminal history includes a conviction in Canada for failing to declare currency while entering the country, as well as a drunken driving charge that's still pending.

Smith was born and raised in Kelowna, where his father currently resides, but lived at a home owned by his brother in Whistler, B.C. prior to his arrest on Feb. 16.

A border patrol agent spotted him on the east side of Highway 395 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway,” near the Laurier border crossing, according to federal court documents. Investigators found 30 individually wrapped, sealed packages (pictured) of cocaine in two backpacks.

Smith has pleaded not guilty to intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

Grand jury indicts man for 71lbs of coke

A Canadian man arrested with 71 pounds of cocaine near the U.S. border last month faces at least 10 years in prison under a grand jury indictment filed Tuesday.

Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, has been in custody without bail at the Spokane County Jail since Feb. 16, when a border patrol agent spotted him on the east side of Highway 395 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway,” near the Laurier border crossing, according to federal court documents.

Investigators found 30 individually wrapped, sealed packages of cocaine in two backpacks.

Smith declined to talk to investigators. His trial on one count of possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine is scheduled to begin May 10.

The charge carries 10 years to life in prison.

According to Canadian news reports, Smith was arrested with $165,000 in undeclared U.S. currency when he tried to enter B.C. in 2007. He was convicted in 2009.

He has not yet had a bail hearing in this case. He's represented by Jeffrey Niesen.

Canadian arrested with 71 lbs of cocaine

U.S. border patrol agents seized 71 pounds of cocaine near the Canadian border in Eastern Washington this week.

Jonathan Darren Smith, 39, is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail after agents near the Laurier border crossing spotted him on the east side of Highway 395 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway,” about 9:05 p.m. on Wednesday, according to federal court documents.

Smith,dressed in black with a backpack strapped to his chest and one strapped to his back, as ordered to the ground at gunpoint.

He told U.S. Border Patrol Agent Eric Forthun that he was returning to Canada after crossing into the United States by foot two days earlier. But Forthun recalled agents discovering snowy footprints near the border a day earlier and suspected Smith was a drug smuggler, documents say.

Investigators found 30 individually wrapped, sealed packages of cocaine in the backpacks. Smith also had $13 in U.S. currency and $175 in Canadian currency.

The suspect declined to talk to investigators. He appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday and is represented by the federal public defender's office.

According to this article, Smith was caught with $165,000 in undeclared U.S. currency when he tried to enter B.C. in 2007.

Technician gets 9 years for child porn

A Canadian computer technician who illegally entered the United States with a laptop computer containing child pornography has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

Scott Andrew Henry, 25, will be on probation for 10 years after he leaves prison. He pleaded guilty in September to possession of sexually explicit images of minors and was sentenced Monday.

Henry illegally entered the United States near Bonners Ferry in May after cutting through a wire fence and driving his car through. border agents found him with a red Dodge Neon on Boundary Creek Bridge east of the Porthill, Idaho, entry.

He had his computer connected to a GPS receiver and to Google Maps and appeared to be trying to ram a locked gate before his car got stuck, according to federal court documents.  Investigators found more than 57,000 images of child pornography on his computer.

Henry has a prior felony conviction for fraud and has several forgery charges pending in New York state, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He first told investigators that he owns a computer company in British Columbia, the Komputer Clinic, and may have picked up the photos while serving clients’ computers, according to federal court documents.

Past coverage:

July 20: Computer tech charged in child porn case

Wanted: Owner of 310 lbs of Ecstasy

Federal drug agents are trying to find the owner of more than 310 pounds of Ecstasy seized near Curlew this month. 

A resident tipped the U.S. Border Patrol to several backpacks filled with pills hidden under brush along a trail near the Canadian border Oct. 18.

Border Patrol dogs found two other backpacks of the drug in what federal agents described as a record Ecstasy seizure along Washington’s northern border, according to a news release.

Authorities estimate the value of the drugs to be $9.3 million.

“This significant seizure is a direct result of the valued partnership that we share with our local residents and the importance of them reporting any suspicious activity to law enforcement,” Gloria Chavez, chief patrol agent of the Spokane Border Patrol, said in a prepared statement.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating.

Computer tech charged in child porn case

A man accused of illegally entering the United States in May with a laptop computer containing child pornography is to appear in federal court in Coeur d’Alene this afternoon.

Scott Andrew Henry told border agents he owns a computer company in British Columbia and may have picked up the photos while serving clients computers, according to federal court documents.

Henry said the serviced computer’s files transfer to his Dell laptop in the same places they were saved on the original computer, but a federal agent said the information is actually stored in one spot, not in various files.

Investigators found inappropriate images of young children in a file-sharing folder under the computer profile “DrScott,” documents allege. Henry said he and three business partners own a computer sales and service company in Castlegar, B.C., called Komputer Clinic.

Henry was arrested May 3 for unlawful entry into the country after border agents found him with a red Dodge Neon on Boundary Creek Bridge east of the Porthill, Idaho, entry. He had his computer connected to a GPS receiver and to Google Maps and appeared to be trying to ram a locked gate before his car got stuck, according to federal court documents. He’s been in the Boundary County Jail ever since.

He’s to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court on one count of possession of child pornography.

Plane stolen near U.S-Canada border

An airplane was stolen from the Boundary County Airport early today.

The heist is the latest move in a series of mysterious activity near the United States and Canada border in the last week.

The Creston, B.C airport reported break ins over the weekend that saw handguns, food, beer and other supplies stolen, along with an attempt to take another plane.

Authorities think the same group broke into the Boundary County Airport Sunday night before returning late Monday or early today to take a 2005 Cessna model T182T, said Jessica Short, airport office manager.

Read the rest of my story here. 

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here