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Who lost the helicopter this time?

 

Bust nets $1 million in ‘B.C. bud'

By MARTA MURVOSH Staff Writer

 

Story

 

In a case that unfolded like an action movie, two Canadians have been charged in federal court in connection with the alleged smuggling of 350 pounds of marijuana in a helicopter drop in the forest west of Baker Lake.

 

Mark Banicevic and Jefferey Sayle were indicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle on one count each of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

 

A federal customs agent's affidavit filed with the charges gave a gripping description of the March 30 events that ended with the arrest of the suspects and confiscation of what officials says is $1 million worth of marijuana.

 

The scene unfolded in the area of a remote U.S. Forest Service road near Sandy Creek, about 13 miles north of Highway 20.

 

One of the suspects used a flashlight to signal a helicopter that it was safe to land near where two rented pickups were parked.

 

An iridescent purple helicopter, allegedly carrying about 350 pounds of marijuana, traveled toward the area where the two Canadian suspects' pickups were parked.

 

As the chopper approached, it was tracked by federal agents watching from an observation point north of the suspects' position.

The agents also monitored the rental trucks' positions with tracking devices that had been secreted during the night as the suspects slept in a Mount Vernon motel.

 

The helicopter dipped below the treeline and agents heard the pilot turn off the engine. About two or three minutes later, agents heard the engine start and then saw the helicopter fly from the tree cover heading northeast.

 

The two Canadians traveled down the mountain and Baker Lake Road and Highway 20.

 

Within two hours, State Patrol troopers stopped the two pickups as they traveled south on Interstate 5.

 

The two men gave troopers permission to search their trucks, according to the affidavit filed by the agent with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

Troopers allegedly found $1,980 in cash in Banicevic's pants pocket and nine large hockey-style bags filled with what agents say was marijuana, according to court documents. Skagit County drug task force detectives assisted in the search and investigation.

 

In the truck Sayle had rented, agents discovered a handheld radio that was set to the same channel as a similar device found in Banicevic's rented truck.

 

Sayle told the agents that he traveled to the United States to scout out fishing spots and asked for a lawyer, according to the affidavit.

 

The agents said Sayle didn't have a fishing license or gear.

 

But Banicevic cooperated with agents, describing what happened when the helicopter landed, according to court documents. When the chopper landed, Banicevic helped unload the marijuana-filled hockey bags, court documents said.

 

Skagit County drug task force agents say the street value of "B.C. bud" is $3,000 a pound, making the confiscated drugs worth $1.05 million.

 

Sayle allegedly acted as the lookout and used the handheld radio; he was to key the microphone if he saw any law enforcement in the area where the helicopter was to land, agents said Banicevic told them.

 

Banicevic told them that on five other occasions he had transported marijuana in a similar manner, court documents said.

 

Banicevic of Burnaby, B.C., was released on $40,000 bail and Sayle of North Vancouver, B.C., was released on $25,000 bail, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

 

The two will be arraigned Thursday.

 

The federal complaint didn't specify where agents believe the marijuana was to be taken beyond saying it was to be delivered to two different locations.

 

The customs agents began to watch the two Canadians around 3 p.m. March 29 just after they crossed the border at Blaine. At the time, Banicevic was driving a green 2000 Ford F-150 pickup and Sayle was his passenger.

 

The federal complaint didn't specify the reasons for the surveillance.

 

Banicevic then drove to Bellingham International Airport, where the two men rented two gray pickups.

 

Agents maintained their surveillance as the men drove to Mount Vernon where they checked into a motel. A couple of hours later the two Canadians drove to North Seattle where they picked up a canopy shell that they put on the truck Banicevic was driving.

 

They returned to Mount Vernon, where they spent the night. The next morning the two men got up early and drove to eastern Skagit County toward Baker Lake Road. Agents said their tracking devices indicated the two pickups traveled up and down the mountains.

 

Finally they traveled to the area of Forest Service Road 1124, where Banicevic met the helicopter, according to federal court documents.

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Forget the purple helicopter (eeeewwww! what a mean thing to do to a helicopter!) uno momento.

 

While "B.C. Bud" is the probably the least of Seattle's teen drug/street scene culture problems (they've got bigger problems with the hardcore stuff: ecstasy, inhalants, ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, you name it), I'm glad these two were tracked, stopped and apprehended before the dope hit the streets.

 

I'm there once a year and gotta tell ya that area DON'T need no more drugs! It's heartbreaking to watch the tripper kids walking around Pike Market like zombies (they look you in the eye and they don't even SEE you!) and spread out all over public places with their blank stares and trances. Talk about The Living Dead. Scary stuff. :down:

 

:rant: Okay, enough ranting.

 

Back to your pppppppuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrpppppplllllllleeeeeee (that is disgusting!) helicopter.

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Guest jesse

A couple times at yxx i seen a privately owned ec 120 that was painted purple and it looked pretty good. Well i think it was that color changing paint but most of the time it looked purple.

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Maybe you should tell the families of the RCMP officers who were gunned down by a nice friendly pot grower, that they were wasting their time and taxpayer money too? Come to that, why not call the RCMP and tell them the same thing?

 

The only thing that any illegal drug does, is allows criminals to become rich and everyone else to lose. People in the drug business typically don't tend to be virtuous productive members of society - at least not the ones I see. Of course, maybe you have a different viewpoint on the biker gangs, Hells Angels and other nefarious organized crime low lifes that profit directly from this?

 

Incidentally there was another similar case of a low flying aircraft with no lights that landed in Arlington, WA, then dumped its cargo and sped back over the border - Wednesday night I think that happened. I believe it was apprehended upon return.

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Guest bag swinnger
The only thing that any illegal drug does, is allows criminals to become rich and everyone else to lose. People in the drug business typically don't tend to be virtuous productive members of society - at least not the ones I see. Of course, maybe you have a different viewpoint on the biker gangs, Hells Angels and other nefarious organized crime low lifes that profit directly from this?

 

True.

I am not endorsing the use of Drugs, but stuff like this could be controlled much better if it was legalized......Oh just think of the Tax revenue.

If that ever happens BC. would probably go under.

Oh I could see it now, going down to the local beer & bud

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Guest Angry Egg Driver

Before it was the Columbian drug runners the Americans were trying to stop.Now its the British Columbians that they have problems with.Go figure.............. :(

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<_< As i was born, raised and still reside down here on the south west coast, all this kind of activity is nothing new.....drug runners have been utilizing a/c for as long as I can remember......and to be honest it just doesn't happen in B.C. Any province touching any part of the U.S. has the same problem......perhaps not on as large a scale, but that will change..... :down:

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What a complete and utter waste of taxpayers money.

When will they(U.S. law enforcment) learn? :down:

What is a waste of our taxpayer dollars?

The fact that two Canadian guys have been charged in U.S. District Court and there will be resulting court costs?

Or maybe it’s the time and money spent by federal agents, Washington State Patrol troopers and/or Skagit County DEA agents on tracking, surveillance, searching and investigating?

Perhaps the waste is that the suspects were released on bail?

Or better yet, that NOTHING will come of it to dissuade others who will just become more clever?

Maybe it's the bigger picture behind the social ills? Hmmm....

 

Frankly, I’m glad the weed is off the streets because of all the crap (guns, violence, addiction and abuse, stupidity) it brings with it. That alone is worth every penny of my taxpaying dollars.

 

I must be missing something… <_<

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