After nearly a decade of fighting extradition from Canada to Seattle, a British Columbia man was sentenced to prison for his role in using leased helicopters to operate a multinational drug smuggling ring. The man, 46-year-old Colin Martin, was sentenced to seven years for a crime he was indicted for in 2009.
In the 2000s, Martin's empire focused on shipping high-grade marijuana into Washington and bringing back cocaine from southern California into Canada on his return trip. Martin used helicopters leased in Canada and hired pilots to fly the drugs over the border. The pilots would land in clearings in rural western Washington and Idaho, leaving the marijuana and picking up packages of cocaine waiting for them. At the time, marijuana was still illegal in Washington state, which created enormous demand for high quality “B.C. Bud.”
Martin's empire began to crumble when his operation caught the attention of U.S. federal law enforcement. After tracking his pilots into the country, federal officials arrested a number of them before obtaining their cooperation in building a case against Martin. In 2009, authorities believed they had enough evidence to convict and issued a federal indictment for drug trafficking. The biggest issue was that Martin was in Canada and had no interest in entering the United States to face trial.
Martin was taken into custody where he began a vigorous fight against extradition. Despite facing extradition, Martin was released from 2014 to 2017. At the sentencing hearing, Martin pointed to his behavior while released pending extradition as evidence he had turned his life around. He highlighted his relationship with his five children age 5 to age 17, as well as his work and charity efforts.
Martin's wife and children were unable to attend the sentencing. Despite requesting a visa to attend the proceedings, border patrol denied her request. However, she went on to speak with the press and express relief that the sentence was longer. Despite that, she was less convinced that the long fight against extradition was worthwhile. “You want to exercise your right to fight extradition, and you think that if you stall maybe something will change,” Martin's wife said. “But in hindsight, if he'd gone down lickety-split, he'd be home now.”
Martin's helicopter-smuggling empire was not his first foray into drug trafficking. U.S. authorities became aware of Martin in the late 1990s when he was indicted for drug trafficking in Spokane, Washington. In that case, Martin used a fleet of small planes to smuggle marijuana into the state. Martin was never extradited for that charge, but he was jailed for over two years after being convicted in Canada for the same conduct.
If you are facing drug-related charges, it's important to understand your rights. Your freedom is on the line, and the resources the state has available to marshal against you are enormous. Your best bet is to find a defense attorney that is ready to vigorously defend your freedom. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who has dedicated his private practice to defending the accused. Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi to set up your free consultation today.