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Mon, Nov 12, 2012

Pilot Who Flew Huge Loads Of Drugs Into U.S. From Canada Gets 10 Years

Pilot Identified As Part Of 'Operation Frozen Timber'

A Canadian helicopter pilot who flew loads of drugs into the U.S. from Canada for organized criminal groups was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison and five years of supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Henry Rosenau, 61, of Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada pleaded guilty in July 2012 to conspiracy to import marijuana, just hours before he was to go on trial for a second time. His first trial in April 2012 ended in a hung jury. With his plea agreement, Rosenau admitted that he repeatedly smuggled thousands of pounds of marijuana across the border from Canada, illegally flying at low levels to avoid radar, and landing in wilderness areas as far east as Montana. At sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman told Rosenau that he “had skills that you turned into something sinister for your own greed.... You dumped lots and lots of drugs into this country that made their way into high schools and middle schools across Washington.”

Rosenau was identified in Operation Frozen Timber. The 2005 investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified organized criminal groups smuggling B.C. Bud marijuana by helicopter south from Canada into the U.S., and smuggling cocaine north into Canada. In his plea agreement, Rosenau admits that between 2000 and 2005 he flew dozens of loads of marijuana into forested areas in Western and Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana. Rosenau also flew Canadians across the border into the U.S. to work as off-loaders and transporters for the drug loads. From the Pacific Northwest the drugs were transported across the U.S. Rosenau was first contacted by Canadian law enforcement in 2005 as he returned to Canada after delivering a load. In the cockpit of the helicopter the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found a loaded handgun, night vision goggles, two satellite telephones, and a GPS device with known landing sites used by the marijuana traffickers.

Since his indictment in May 2006, Rosenau had vigorously fought extradition from Canada and had filed lawsuits in Canada against witnesses, law enforcement and prosecutors to try to derail the prosecution. As part of his plea agreement, Rosenau agreed to dismiss those lawsuits and admitted they were frivolous.

“The remote forest areas that concealed Rosenau’s and his co-conspirators’ smuggling operation also provided law enforcement with the perfect platform to observe their criminal activity,” said Brad Bench special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “Rosenau was the air courier service to several transnational criminal organizations. While he was busy turning drug smuggling by helicopter into a growth industry, HSI and its border enforcement partners were building the case that dismantled his criminal enterprise and brought him justice.”

In asking for a sentence of 15 and a half years in prison, prosecutors wrote Rosenau is “a man who skirts the law when he believes doing so will benefit him, who prevaricates when asked what he did and why, and who believes dealing with governments (from pilot and aircraft regulations to police investigations to court matters) is some sort of a game. The defendant has shown that he will say whatever he thinks is expedient, whether it’s misleading Transport Canada about aircraft ownership and his medical status, or testifying that a dead man committed his crimes. With some shrewdness, the defendant dealt well in the world of drug smugglers. He flew for some of the bigger and well-known drug traffickers…” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

More than 40 people were indicted in connection with Operation Frozen Timber. During the course of the operation, U.S. and Canadian enforcement teams intercepted more than 17 drug loads, including one shipment in February 2005 involving five suitcases packed with 169 kilograms of cocaine. Authorities say the defendants planned to use a helicopter to smuggle the cocaine from a landing site in the Okanogan National Forest to British Columbia. Another significant seizure in the case came in September 2005, when agents followed two courier vehicles to a Puyallup residence and recovered more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. Operation Frozen Timber was conducted under the auspices of the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET), a multi-agency law enforcement team comprised of representatives from Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies. Members of the IBET work together with local, state, and provincial enforcement agencies to target cross-border criminal activity, including investigations involving national security and organized crime. Additional assistance was provided by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations.

Rosenau was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Roe and Marc Perez.

(Image from Immigration and Customs Enforcement video)

FMI: www.justice.gov

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