Crime

It took nearly 6 years, but Canadian ecstasy smuggler receives prison sentence

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A Canadian man who smuggled ecstasy across the border into the United States and who is believed to have fired a gun at U.S. Border Patrol agents near Sumas in April 2013 was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Nathan Hall, 41, was identified by co-defendent Jeffrey Laviolette as the second person in an unsuccessful attempt to smuggle more than 20 kilos of ecstasy, according to a Department of Justice release. Though Hall admits he carried a firearm on an earlier smuggling run in March 2013, he denies being the gunman in the failed attempt a month later.

But a trail camera near the border captured Hall with a firearm strapped to his thigh, according to the release, and at Friday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said Hall “has a history of chronic lying, using fake ID and ignoring court orders.”

Hall likely will be deported following his prison term, the release said, and he can petition for treaty transfer back to Canada. Laviolette was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to previous reports by The Bellingham Herald, 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. April 2, 2013.

The men wore camouflage, and agents ordered them to stop. Hall responded by dropping his backpack and opening fire, according to court documents, and then he fled into the woods.

Agents arrested Laviolette and recovered two camouflaged backpacks stuffed with more than 58 pounds of amphetamines that tested positive for ecstasy.

For 19 hours, Hall eluded police dogs, border helicopters, a SWAT team and a swarm of agents on both sides of the border, but a tip eventually led Canadian officials to find Hall in the apartment of Laviolette’s girlfriend.

It took more than five years for Hall to be extradited from Canada, according to the Department of Justice release, and in November 2018, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute ecstasy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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