U.S. officials want B.C. man extradited
U.S. authorities have taken an unusual step in attempting to extradite a B.C. man they say was the kingpin of a major cross-border drug smuggling operation.
They claim that Colin Martin, from Sicamous, B.C., organized weekly helicopter flights of B.C. marijuana and ecstasy to remote American landing pads in exchange for cocaine and cash.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration broke up the operation in February 2009, seizing about 340 kilograms of marijuana, 83 kilograms of cocaine and 240,000 ecstasy tablets, valued between $10 million and $15 million, plus a significant amount of cash, guns, two helicopters and other equipment.
Martin has been charged in Washington State but he remains in B.C.
In an indictment issued in December, U.S. authorities allege Martin bought and rented helicopters for the clandestine flights and organized the shipments.
The indictment also alleges something very unusual — it states that after the busts Martin called the DEA and offered to be an informant. The indictment, a public document, states that Martin offered to help them bust "drug lords."
The release of that information has apparently put Martin in immediate danger.
Martin told CBC News soon after the indictment was filed that RCMP officers came to his home and informed him there was a contract out on his life.
A spokesman for the federal court in Washington State wouldn't comment on why the information was released publicly.
Emily Langlie, with the Washington State District Court, said officials will try to extradite Martin.
"The indictment alleges there was substantial amounts of drugs and the offence carries 10 years in prison and a $4-million fine," she said.
Martin said he plans to fight any moves to extradite him to the U.S.
Just days after the bust, Martin reported his helicopter stolen. At the time, Martin said he knew the pilot but denied any involvement.
Three other B.C. men, who also remain in Canada, are named in the indictment.
Several other Canadians involved in the operation have been convicted and are serving time in the U.S.
Samuel Brown, who was charged and held at the Spokane County Jail, reportedly hanged himself on Feb. 27.
Monday, January 4, 2010