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Court Upholds Prison Sentences In Global Smuggling Scheme


i wanna be cool too!
Oct 22, 2005
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British Columbia
12 Sep 2006

by Richard Watts, Times Colonist,
At almost 12 tonnes, it was the biggest hashish bust in B.C. history and the court case unfolded like a high-speed, high-seas whodunit ending on Vancouver Island.

Now the B.C. Court of Appeal, in a decision released Monday, has affirmed the decisions of a provincial court judge who convicted most of the would-be drug smugglers with sentences ranging from 21/2 to six years in prison.

Out on bail during their appeal, convicted smugglers surrendered themselves Monday morning to authorities in Nanaimo and Vancouver.

The story became public on Nov. 4, 1998, when RCMP moved in to Fanny Bay during the early morning and arrested men loading a dumptruck with bales of hashish -- 9.59 tonnes -- removed off a fishboat, the Ansare II.

Hours later, in international waters about 540 nautical miles northwest of Port Hardy, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded a recommissioned scallop dragger, the Blue Dawn. The Americans were quickly followed by RCMP and Canadian Forces sailors off HMCS Huron. Two Canadians were arrested and a further 2.35 tonnes of hashish was seized.

In all, 14 people were arrested and charged.

Five, mostly involved with unloading and attempted distribution, went to court in Nanaimo in 2000 and wound up with prison terms ranging from three to four years. Nine others were prosecuted in Vancouver, including the seven people who were the subject of Monday's Court of Appeal decision.

Police work began in the early spring of 1997 when the RCMP drug squad in Vancouver was tipped that a group from B.C. was in Yarmouth, N. S. The group was refitting an aged scallop dragger named Blue Dawn with massive new fuel tanks and giving it a general overhaul that, given the state of the vessel, made little financial sense.

Police in Europe and the Middle East were alerted. When the Blue Dawn arrived in the Greek island of Crete, the Mounties were notified. Enlisting the help of the Hellenistic Coast Guard of Greece, police secretly attached a satellite tracking device to the Blue Dawn and what police called "Project E-Profit" was underway.

Police traced the Blue Dawn as it left Crete and sailed on to Sri Lanka and Thailand. The vessel then sailed back on its path and stopped near Indonesia before heading through the Strait of Malacca, past Singapore and directly on to B.C.

Meanwhile, in August 1997 the RCMP Vancouver Island Drug Section had initiated another investigation acting on a tip into what they believed was an impending off-load of a large quantity of hashish. They dubbed this investigation "Project E-Paiute." It wasn't until October 1998, that investigators realized they were all dealing with one drug-smuggling operation.

Late that month a Canadian Armed Forces Aurora aircraft from 407 Squadron in Comox flew 24 missions to track the Blue Dawn and noted its meeting with a vessel first dubbed "Blue Buddy."

An RCMP Caravan surveillance plane identified Blue Buddy as the Ansare II and followed it around the northern tip of Vancouver Island, south through Johnstone Strait and ultimately into Fanny Bay. Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces Aurora went back to tracking the Blue Dawn until it was boarded.

After the vessels and their cargoes were seized police executed search warrants on residences, hotel rooms, vehicles, workplaces, other vessels, a rented cabin in Bowser and a rented warehouse in Parksville.

The trial in B.C. provincial court in Vancouver took three years. All the accused were convicted of possession of hashish for the purpose of trafficking and/or importing hashish.

Sanford Hately, captain of the Blue Dawn, was sentenced to six years. Kurt Patrick Guilbride, five, Ronald Thomson, four, Richard Farrington, 31/2, Kenneth Thomson, 21/2, Joel Hately, 21/2. All surrendered themselves Monday.

Also appealing was Sylvie Goyer, sentenced to four years. Goyer has already served her time. Ronald Grant was also convicted and has served his sentence. Wolfgang Fitznar fled the country during the trial and has not been found.

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