LIGHT SENTENCE FOR MOTHER IN U.S. DRUG RING
Vancouver Woman Gets 15 Months In Jail For Trying To Traffic 15,000 Ecstasy Pills
A young Vancouver woman who had political aspirations tearfully apologized in a Seattle courtroom Friday for her attempt to traffic ecstasy in the U.S. last year.
"I messed up and I am very sorry," Ravinderjit Kaur Puar told U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour.
The judge sentenced Puar to 15 months in jail and three years supervised release after she pleaded guilty last fall for her role in a cross-border drug trafficking ring.
Puar, who also uses her married name Shergill, ran unsuccessfully for the NDP nomination in Vancouver-Kensington and was elected as a federal Liberal delegate to the leadership race won by then-prime minister Paul Martin.
U.S. sentencing guidelines indicated the 31-year-old B.C. woman should have received 70 to 87 months for her crime.
But Coughenour reduced her time considerably because she has a four-year-old daughter, said Emily Langlie, of the U.S. Attorney's office.
Langlie said Puar's lawyer argued that she participated in the trafficking of ecstasy only out of desperation because her husband had an "out-of-control" drug problem that was draining the family financially.
Puar was arrested last June 30 after a month-long sting by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. She boasted on secretly made tapes about being in a drug gang involved in the sale of ecstasy and marijuana and also said she did not want any "heat" because both she and her father are politicians.
"We don't drop our weed off here. We take it all the way to California," Puar was also quoted in U.S court documents. She also bragged she had the power to put anyone who crossed her or her drug gang "six feet under."
"Yeah, it's that simple. That's what the game is like in Vancouver. You f... with us, you die. Well, I don't know if you listen to the news and stuff. In Vancouver ... you pay for it and you know how bad you pay for it," Puar told the U.S. agent.
But her lawyer said in court Friday that Puar's comments were "unbelievable" and she was simply hyping herself to a potential client without knowing the person was an undercover agent.
Puar first provided the agent with 2,700 "blue dolphin" pills that cost $3.50 US each. She then maintained phone contact and held meetings with the DEA agent throughout June 2005, offering 15,000 ecstasy pills ranging from $3.50 to $5 US each.
Three others nabbed in the same DEA sting are due to be sentenced in June, Langlie said.
Puar's father Kalwant Singh is on the executive of Vancouver's Ross Street Sikh temple and is a long-time federal Liberal supporter.
Puar was working at the B.C. Cancer Agency at the time of her arrest and lived in her father's south Vancouver home.
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