Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Colin Martin will face charges in the U.S. relating to a cross-border drug smuggling operation.

On Thursday, Dec. 14, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Martin’s application for leave to appeal a June 13 BC Court of Appeal decision upholding his surrender to U.S. authorities.

Martin is now back in custody awaiting extradition.

“I can confirm that Colin Martin turned himself into custody on Dec. 14 after his appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil.

In May 2014, B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke determined that Martin be extradited to the U.S. for “prosecution in relation to an alleged conspiracy to traffic cocaine, marijuana and MDMA or ecstasy,” referring to a drug-smuggling operation that allegedly took place between 2007 and 2009.

“Taking a ‘holistic approach’ and engaging in limited weighing of the evidence… I am satisfied that there is a sufficient body of evidence from which a properly instructed jury could reasonably infer that Mr. Martin was a member of a conspiracy to transport controlled substances across the U.S.-Canada border for distribution to other persons,” concluded Ehrcke.

U.S. court documents allege Martin provided helicopters to transport drugs across the border.

On Feb. 23, 2009, one of those helicopters, flown by Samuel Lindsay-Brown from Canada into Washington State, was intercepted by U.S. authorities. Brown was found carrying a load of 420 lbs of marijuana. He’d allegedly intended to deliver the marijuana and pick up 84 kilograms of cocaine which had already been seized by authorities. Brown was arrested and, the following month, the 24-year-old committed suicide in a Spokane County Jail prison cell.

Alleged co-conspirator Sean Doak was extradited to the U.S. in 2015. He pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and, in 2016, was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Another alleged co-conspirator, Adam Serrano, was sentenced in the U.S. to three years in prison.

In June 2017, Martin appealed the 2014 extradition decision before the B.C. Court of Appeal. Court documents say Martin argued the justice minister’s decision to surrender him to the U.S. for prosecution was unreasonable because “she erred in finding the requesting state’s ‘outing’ him as a would-be informant was not an abuse of process.” It also argued that his incarceration in the U.S. would affect his mental health and his Métis heritage was not considered as part of the ruling.

In their Oct. 13 decision to dismiss Martin’s extradition appeal, B.C. Court of Appeal justices Gail Dickson, Elizabeth Bennett and Chief Justice Robert Bauman determined the minister’s decision was not unreasonable and dismissed Martin’s appeal.

Dickson considered Martin’s arguments relating to abuse of process and “reasonably concluded this was not one of the ‘clearest of cases’ in which a stay of proceedings was warranted.”

“The United States provided information regarding solitary confinement, a reality in both countries’ prison systems, and programs to address mental health concerns. It also advised that Mr. Martin’s Métis heritage can be considered at sentencing and that there are measures in place at the facility in which he is expected to be housed to accommodate his aboriginal background,” Dickson wrote.

Martin has already served time relating to past drug-related charges. In 2007, he was found guilty for his involvement in another cross-border drug smuggling operation in the late 1990s. He was convicted on eight counts, including conspiring to export marijuana, conspiring to traffic marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime and two counts of laundering.

In November 2014, Martin was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to production of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking in Canada. The sentence stemmed from his 2010 arrest at a Malakwa residential property following a police search of an adjacent property where officers located an underground bunker containing around 3,000 marijuana plants.


@SalmonArm
lachlan@saobserver.net

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