B.C. TRUCKER PLEADS GUILTY IN U.S.
Maple Ridge's Robert J. Shannon faces at least 10 years in jail on conspiracy and money-laundering charges in Washington state
A Metro Vancouver man linked to the Hells Angels pleaded guilty Tuesday in Seattle to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and money-laundering, and will face at least a decade behind bars.
Maple Ridge trucker Robert J. Shannon was alleged to be the leader of an international drug ring working "on behalf of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club," according to the indictment filed against him last June.
Shannon was due to go to trial in February, but will instead be sentenced in March on the two counts, related to drug importations worth an estimated $19 million US.
When Shannon pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, special assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Cornell told the judge he plans to seek a sentence "substantially above the mandatory minimum" because of the significant reach of the drug conspiracy, the large quantities of drugs involved, and Shannon's leadership in the ring. The mandatory minimum sentence for the charges is 10 years.
Cornell said in an interview that Shannon has so far pleaded guilty only to the basic charges against him.
"As the federal prosecutor handling the case, I will have to convince the judge that Mr. Shannon was indeed a leader and that he was responsible for thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds of marijuana and cocaine," Cornell said. "I will have to provide documentation to the court and to United States probation to justify the reason why he is the leader, for instance."
While U.S. court documents do not detail Shannon's alleged relationship with the Hells Angels, the RCMP said earlier he was associated with full-patch members of the Vancouver, Haney and Mission clubs.
The Vancouver Sun obtained several photographs of Shannon posing with Vancouver Hells Angel Hal Bruce Porteous, wearing his colours and death's head pin.
The photos appear to be taken outside at a birthday party for Porteous attended by Shannon and his former business partner Jody York, among others.
The U.S. indictment says Shannon was in charge of distributing the cocaine and marijuana across North America and directed smuggling activities.
The drugs were hidden inside hollowed-out logs on trucks, within the false walls of cargo containers and vehicles, within loads of commercial lumber, inside large plastic pipes, and in the interior of a propane tanker.
The Vancouver Sun revealed Monday that Shannon and York had founded a Langley trucking company called Image Logistics in 2002, along with another man still facing charges in the drug case, Richard A. Jansen. York, an associate of slain Independent Soldier gang member Joe Krantz, was listed as president, while Shannon was vice-president.
York's Langley house was the target of a drive-by shooting in early October.
Jansen and Shannon ceased to be directors of Image Logistics on Dec. 31, 2005, corporate records show.
Jansen's new trucking company, Scorpion Transport, is listed in court documents as allegedly transporting B.C. bud across into Washington state in several shipments.
Just two weeks ago, three other B.C. men charged in the same conspiracy case also pleaded guilty. Devron Quast and Philip Stone were both managers at Quast's father's Hyundai dealership in Abbotsford while they were involved in the drug ring. Another Canadian, John Fairweather, also admitted to a role after being caught at a Bellingham warehouse where marijuana from B.C. was found.
Wed, 03 Dec 2008
Vancouver Sun (CN BC)