KIRKLAND, WA -- A 40-year-old man in this Washington state town, who pleaded guilty to leading an international drug ring that smuggled tons of marijuana and cocaine while he posed as stay-at-home soccer dad, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Jacob Saul Stuart was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour to five years of supervised release. Stuart pleaded guilty in November 2011 and was arrested on April 28, 2011.
In an investigation that began in May of 2010, federal investigators used court-authorized wiretaps to determine the drug ring was transporting from British Columbia, Canada, and distributing in the U.S. 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana every month. At the same time, 100 to 200 kilos of cocaine were being moved north to Canada every month. According to prosecutors, the pot went to California, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and New Jersey among other locations.
Five members of the smuggling ring have already been sentenced to long prison terms, and 24 in the U.S. and Canada have been charged in the case. The ring allegedly had ties to members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in British Columbia.
Stuart has been in custody since his arrest. “He has been at the federal detention center at Sea-Tac,” said Emilie Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office of Western Washington.
According to court documents, the ring smuggled marijuana from British Columbia into the U.S. in trucks, sometimes manure trucks. It was then distributed by private planes. Cocaine was shipped north from California by car or plane, and then smuggled into Canada.
“A lot of the marijuana was secreted in semi trucks and brought across the border into the U.S.,” Langlie said.
Prosecutors said they taped Stuart on the phone discussing the purchase of guns, bats and chemical spray for Canadian ring members who were coming to Washington to investigate more than 100 kilograms of cocaine that disappeared. The drugs had actually been confiscated by authorities.
“This is one of the largest drug cases we have had in this district,” Coughenour said at sentencing. “This is a dangerous business with dangerous people who don’t hesitate to use violence.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, other defendants already sentenced in the case include Michael Murphy, a pilot who transported drugs, 12 years in prison; Jacob Burdick, who stored and organized transportation of the drugs, 12 years; John Washington, a drug distributor for the group, 11 years; Mario Joseph Fenianos, a Canadian who obtained and smuggled cocaine for the ring, 13 years; and Michael William Dubois, another Canadian working on the cocaine side of the smuggling, 10 years.
Investigators seized more than $2 million and 136 kilograms of cocaine during the investigation. On April 28, 2011, the day search warrants were executed, investigators seized more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from locations across the country.
Agencies that worked on the case included the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, the King County Sheriff’s Department, Seattle Police Department, State Patrol and the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force.