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Canadian man to serve 8 years for smuggling

A former Canadian union official was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Spokane to serve eight years in a U.S. prison for attempting to smuggle an estimated $4 million worth of cocaine from the United States into Canada.

Perley Edmund Holmes, 50, was sentenced Monday evening by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley after earlier pleading guilty to a charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Holmes was arrested Jan. 18 on the U.S.-Canadian border near Curlew, Wash., after U.S. Border Patrol agents responded to possible smuggling activity and found two sets of human footprints in the snow, said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice.

Agents discovered two backpacks hidden under some bushes and later stopped and arrested Holmes in a vehicle, Rice said. The backpacks contained 57.5 kilograms of cocaine believed to have come from California, with an estimated street value of $4 million, the federal prosecutor said.

A second man eluded agents and ran back into Canada. Rice said the second man has not been identified or arrested.

At the time of his arrest, Holmes was the business manager of Ironworkers Union Local 97 in Burnaby, B.C., which is near Vancouver. Holmes owned property on the U.S.-Canadian border near Osoyoos, close to the area where he was arrested.

After his arrest, Canadian authorities searched Holmes’ property and seized more than 40 firearms. He has not been charged with weapons violations in Canada, authorities said.

Because of the amount of cocaine, Holmes faced a minimum of 120 months in prison, but the judge agreed to a “safety value” reduction to 96 months because the defendant agreed to be de-briefed by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Holmes did not, however, identify the second man who escaped, Rice said.