By Pat Grubb
A former Point Roberts resident is headed to federal prison for smuggling cocaine.
On January 20, Martin Briand, a 37-year-old dual Canadian and French citizen was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Briand had been identified in 2009 by U.S. and Canadian border officers as someone involved with smuggling cocaine into Canada from the U.S.
“In just six months in 2009, this defendant made 29 flights in chartered aircraft between Point Roberts, Washington and points south without ever legally entering the U.S.,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “These frequent illegal border crossings are a hallmark of drug smugglers. In his final trip, a Washington State Trooper caught him with nearly 60 kilos of cocaine. Anyone responsible for transporting these kinds of quantities of illegal drugs also is responsible for feeding countless drug addictions and the misery that comes with them, and thus deserves the lengthy sentence imposed in this case.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began an investigation into Briand and learned he had made 30 trips by private plane from Point Roberts to points south between April 9 and November 2, 2009. Over that same period of time, Briand had only one legal entrance into the U.S. On December 8, 2009, law enforcement learned Briand was making another charter trip from Point Roberts and began surveillance.
Four days later, Briand and another individual flew into the Skagit County Airport on a private plane and were observed struggling to load heavy bags into a pick-up truck.
The truck was stopped by law enforcement and a drug detection dog alerted to the presence of narcotics. A Washington State Trooper seized the bags for later search and Briand and his associate were allowed to leave. The men abandoned the truck and Briand fled to Canada. He was eventually arrested in December 2015 upon his arrival at Vancouver International Airport following a flight from France, where he had been living.
Briand subsequently refused to return to the U.S. to face charges. Following his arrest at the Vancouver International Airport, Canadian courts found he should be detained pending extradition. In March 2016, Briand agreed to be transferred to the U.S. to deal with the indictment.
Braind was living in California during the period of the drug conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.