Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Police bust Canada-U.S. pot smuggling ring

David Aguilar
Associated Press

DETROIT – U.S. and Canadian authorities said Tuesday they have shut down a drug-smuggling operation responsible for transporting large volumes of highly potent, Canadian-grown marijuana.
Detroit-based U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy said four Michigan men have been charged in a criminal complaint and six other men from the state have been arrested. All are suspected of smuggling 168 kilograms of marijuana known as "BC Bud" into the United States.
Ahmad Abboud, 29, Tony Davis, 27, and Jonathan Yaldo, 26, all of Sterling Heights, were arrested June 28 and are named in separate complaints, along with Yahab Abboud, 27, of Rochester Hills.
Ahmad Abboud is charged in the complaint with conspiracy to import marijuana. The other three suspects are charged with marijuana possession with the intent to distribute.
All four men are free on bond, pending a July 17 preliminary hearing.
Murphy said the hydroponically grown marijuana is chemically supercharged and comparable to cocaine in its effects.
He said the four men charged played a large role in smuggling marijuana that came from British Columbia and was transported from Toronto – at some point via rowboat – to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and then to the Detroit area further south.
Murphy said drugs imported by the group often remained in the Detroit area, but said some shipments also were sent to other cities, including New York and Philadelphia.
"I think we've made a big dent in this operation," Murphy said. ``But we're seeing new and oftentimes very creative ways to get drugs and contraband into the United States."
Sterling Heights police Chief David Vinson said his department has been investigating the four men charged since 2001, and following leads indicating they were establishing drug-smuggling cells capable of importation and distribution.
He said the pure form of "BC Bud" is highly potent and can drive up the drug's market price when used to enhance weaker grade marijuana.
"This is not your dad's marijuana," Vinson said. "It has 10 times the THC content of normal marijuana."
Since 2005, U.S. federal officials said $4 million worth of marijuana, 41 kilograms of cocaine and $350,000 have been seized.
Richard Gauthier, commander of Toronto Police Detective Services said 27 arrests have been made throughout Canada.
He said 63 criminal charges have been filed, and authorities have seized an estimated $3 million worth of marijuana and nearly $500,000 in cash

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