SUMAS A suspected ecstasy smuggler who shot at U.S. Border Patrol agents near Sumas sparking a 19-hour manhunt has been arrested in Canada, according to charges filed Wednesday, April 3, in federal court.
It started when U.S. agents confronted two men carrying heavy backpacks south from the border near Reese Hill and Heady roads, a wooded area known to be used by individuals smuggling contraband between the United States and Canada, at 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The men wore camouflage. Agents ordered them to stop. One suspect, later identified as Canadian fugitive Nathan John Hall, responded by dropping his backpack and opening fire, according to court documents. Then he fled into the woods.
Agents arrested the other man, Jeffrey Laviolette, and recovered two camouflaged backpacks stuffed with more than 58 pounds of amphetamines that tested positive for ecstasy, according to the complaint.
For hours, the gunman eluded police dogs, border helicopters, a SWAT team and a swarm of agents on both sides of the border. The search wore on until early Wednesday morning, with tactical teams using night-vision gear as they continued to comb the woods.
With each hour that passed we were dealing with a different scenario, said Abbotsford Police Constable Ian MacDonald.
Then law enforcement got a tip about where Hall might be. At about 4 a.m., Canadian officers launched gas munitions into an apartment within Abbotsford city limits. The charges allege that he had been hiding in the apartment with Laviolettes girlfriend.
Police said Hall had many past run-ins with the law for drug and property crimes. MacDonald said officers are still investigating anyone else who may have aided or abetted the shooter. But so far, hes the only person arrested on the Canadian side of the border.
Laviolette, a Canadian citizen, remained in U.S. custody and made his first appearance in court Wednesday. He confessed that he had smuggled drugs across the border with Hall twice before, according to the charges.
He went on to admit that the duo planned to be picked up by a couple from Whatcom County Kali Henifin and Ryan Lambert (who may use the alias Ryan McTavish) when they made it across the border.
But Henifin and Lambert heard about the manhunt over a police scanner and abandoned the plot, according to the charges. The couple was arrested at Henifins apartment complex, 4242 Wintergreen Circle, in Bellingham. Her boyfriend told agents that they planned to drive the ecstasy to San Francisco, where they would exchange it for $11,000.
The three suspects in the United States are charged with conspiring to distribute MDMA.
Authorities have started to talk about extraditing Hall back to U.S. custody, but the arrest was so fresh on Wednesday, MacDonald said, that nothing had been decided.
We have the bad guy, he said. Now we can slow things down.
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office in Seattle, declined to comment on the extradition case, but said Canadians sometimes voluntarily agree to face court proceedings in the United States.
In a prepared statement, the U.S. Border Patrols Blaine Sector Chief John Bates said the arrest was a perfect example of the bi-national law enforcement partnerships, dedication and support required on a daily basis in securing our nations borders and local communities.
B.C. media reported that an elementary school went into lockdown for about two hours during the search. Canadian police went door-to-door to ensure residents were safe.
SEE THE CHARGES
The documents charging LaViolette, Lambert and Henifin that were filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle can be read here.
Reach Caleb Hutton at email@example.com or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.