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Traffic Stop Leads To Pot Arrest

At 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Kootenai County deputies stopped a Dodge Caravan on Interstate 90, near the Cataldo area, for a lane-change violation. While contacting the driver, Mark R. Hamman, 56, of Portland, Ore.; the deputies smelled a marijuana odor. According to Hamman, he was on a “business trip” from the Portland area to North Dakota. Hamman was traveling alone. Deputies found more than 110 pounds of marijuana in the van’s cargo area. Deputies arrested Hamman on a felony charge of marijuana trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Deputies also seized in excess of $6,000 in cash. Hamman was booked into the Kootenai County Jail, where his bond was set at $25,000. He was released after posting bond today/Kootenai County Sheriff's Department news release.

Man, 78, sent to prison for pot dealing

A 78-year-old man who allowed drug traffickers to use his property just south of the Canadian border in Ferry County will spend 2 1/2 years in federal prison, a judge ruled Thursday.

Alvin Oliver Shields had 700 pounds of marijuana on his property when federal agents searched it in 2009. His lawyer, Jeffry Finer, said he retired from drug trafficking two years before a grand jury indicted him in September.

Shields and his wife live in Lebanon, Ore. His criminal history includes only a conviction for petty larceny in 1958.

Finer described him in court documents as a good humored man with poor hearing and early signs of dementia. He graduated high school in the 1950s but can't remember the year. He also couldn't initially remember the name of his first wife.

“Mr. Shields was ultimately able to provide it to Probation when he noticed it was tattooed on his left arm,” Finer wrote.

Prosecutors say Shields lived in Canada for 30 years. Federal agents began investigating Shields in 2003 after a Border Patrol agent found four duffel bags with 140 pounds of marijuana after four people ran from Fourth of July Creek Road, west of Danville, into Canada.

The agent then saw Shields “driving slowly in a van with the rear cargo doors propped open,” according to a plea agreement.

Then in 2008, a multi-agency investigation determined Shields was letting marijuana traffickers in Canada transport pot to his property, where it was then taken to Spokane and stored for distribution by U.S. drug traffickers.

Shields pleaded guilty in May to money laundering, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (dating back to 2003) and three counts of failure to file income tax returns.

He was sentenced Thursday in Spokane by U.S. District Judge Rosanna Peterson to 30 months in prison followed by five years of probation. The court is recommending he be housed at the federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., to allow his wife, whom Finer described as “aged and unwell,” to visit.

Finer said a short incarceration period “will promote respect for the law and provide general deterrence to others who, like Mr. Shields, may find criminal opportunity in owning property alongside the border with Canada.”

Man w/ 700 lbs of pot pleads guilty

A 78-year-old man who allowed drug traffickers to use his property just south of the Canadian border in Ferry County has pleaded guilty.

Alvin Oliver Shields had 700 pounds of marijuana on his property when federal agents searched it in 2009. Now he faces 30 to 42 months in prison under a plea agreement approved this week in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He's to be sentenced on Aug. 9.

Federal agents began investigating Shields in 2003 after a Border Patrol agent found four duffel bags with 140 pounds of marijuana after four people ran from Fourth of July Creek Road, west of Danville, into Canada.
The agent then saw Shields “driving slowly in a van with the rear cargo doors propped open,” according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

Then in 2008, a multi-agency investigation determined Shields was letting marijuana traffickers in Canada transport the pot to his property, where it was then taken to Spokane and stored for distribution by U.S. drug traffickers, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Along with 700 pounds of pot, agents found evidence of hidden cash transactions and money laundering when they searched Shields' property in May 2009. They also learned Shields hadn't filed federal income tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Shields, who prosecutors said lived in Canada for 30 years, has since moved to Lebanon, Ore.

He pleaded guilty Tuesday in Spokane to money laundering, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (dating back to 2003) and three counts of failure to file income tax returns. He's out jail awaiting sentencing.

“Investigations involving the integrity of the United States borders and federal income tax violators are vigorously pursued in this District,” according to a prepared statement by Michael Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “Alvin Oliver Shields’ guilty pleas are the result of effective Federal, state, local and Canadian law enforcement partnerships.”

Another Danville resident, Harold Oscar Strandberg, was indicted in 2010 after two Canadian pot smugglers, William Richard Paterson and Jahrum David Oakes, were arrested with large amounts of marijuana at Strandberg's Fourth of July Creek Road property.

Strandberg pleaded guilty in March 2011 and is on probation for three years.

Labrador Calls For Holder Resignation

Saying Eric Holder is “either lying or grossly incompetent,' 1st Congressional District Rep. Raul Labrador today called for the attorney general's resignation. Labrador has joined a list of Republicans criticizing Holder's May 3 testimony about Operation Fast and Furious, a gun trafficking network established in an attempt to infiltrate Mexican drug cartels. “It is clear from recently released documents that Mr. Holder did in fact know about Fast and Furious well before he publicly admitted,” said Labrador in a news release. “It is clear he has not been honest about the extent of his involvement with the failed Fast and Furious program and should not be entrusted with managing the Department of Justice. He cannot avoid responsibility for his involvement with a government program that directly led to the tragic death of a decorated U.S. Border Patrol agent”/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo: Eric Holder)

Question: Should Eric Holder resign as a result of Operation Fast & Furious?

Drug trafficker’s seized assets help police

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how a seven-year-old drug federal trafficking case brought good news to law enforcement agencies in Idaho on Wednesday. That's because all appeals and asset forfeiture proceedings in the case have been completed, so the Idaho State Police got a check for $456,446 and the Coeur d'Alene Police Department is getting $18,630 as its share.

Former Coeur d'Alene gold and coin dealer Robert Leon Mertens was convicted in 2004 on 11 federal charges, including selling cocaine, marijuana and heroin at locations including a Sagle flea market, and laundering the money through his Coeur d'Alene business, Northwest Coin and Jewelry.

FBI Raids Chillers, CdA Home

An FBI SWAT Team executed several early morning raids across Coeur d’Alene Tuesday morning as part of a federal drug bust of a ring that was trafficking marijuana and cocanie. A home at 9th and Homestead was one of the properties raided by federal agents Tuesday. FBI agents also served a search warrant at Chillers, a night club located in the 1900 block of Sherman Avenue. Witnesses there say the agents seized a number of items from the night club as evidence including gambling equipment. As of Tuesday afternoon Chillers remained closed/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here.

  • H/T HMOffsuite