Sentence upheld in record Man. cocaine bust
A B.C. man convicted for smuggling the largest haul of cocaine ever seized by police in Manitoba has had his appeal for a lighter sentence dismissed.
On Friday, Manitoba's Court of Appeal dismissed James Oddleifson's appeal for a sentence less than the 10 years handed to him in May 2009.
He was to be taken into custody by corrections officials to serve his sentence at an undisclosed federal prison. The 49-year-old had been out on bail while his appeal worked its way through the courts.
Manitoba's highest court has not yet released its reasons for rejecting Oddleifson's plea for leniency.
Oddleifson was arrested in July 2004 after Headingley RCMP officers pulled over a minivan for a traffic stop. Officers discovered a secret compartment in the van that held 46 kilograms of South American cocaine worth an estimated $3 million.
The van's driver, Derek Laviolette, 31, was acquitted after Justice Murray Sinclair determined he didn't know the drugs were in the van. Oddleifson was convicted at the same time of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
The men had claimed police violated their rights by stopping their vehicle, but Sinclair rejected that motion.
The RCMP described the bust as the largest-ever seizure of drugs on a Manitoba highway.
Sinclair said he believed Oddleifson, who pleaded not guilty, was more than just a drug courier, saying there was evidence the man was working with a criminal organization.
He said Oddleifson was on a trip to Toronto to ensure the drugs got safely to where they were supposed to go.
Last Updated: Sunday, May 16, 2010 | 3:54 PM CT