- Our Town
Accused drug smuggler appeals extradition
By Tim Petruk,
The Shuswap man believed by American authorities to be a cross-border drug kingpin has been granted bail pending the appeal of his extradition to Seattle.
Colin Hugh Martin was granted bail in Vancouver last week while his extradition is appealed.
In May, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Martin should be sent to the U.S. to face charges for conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.
U.S. prosecutors allege Martin, who lives in Malakwa, ran a sophisticated, large-scale smuggling ring that saw millions of dollars worth of marijuana, cocaine, MDMA and firearms transported by helicopter between B.C. and remote locations in northern Idaho and Washington state.
Court heard Martin would hire people in B.C. to load the helicopters with as much as $5-million worth of marijuana or MDMA, then pay pilots to fly the choppers to pre-determined locations across the U.S.-Canada border. The haul of B.C. bud or pills would allegedly be unloaded by a ground crew in the U.S., and cocaine, firearms and money would be loaded into the helicopter for transport back to Canada.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into the operation resulted in multiple arrests on both sides of the border.
American prosecutors have charged Martin with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute.
They want him to stand trial in Seattle.
Martin was arrested after he was ordered extradited on May 9. He was granted bail largely because of the health of his wife, who has a heart condition, and her inability to care for the couple’s seven children.
Martin has been ordered to abide by a 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. curfew while on bail and will be forced to allow police to search his home at any time.
It’s not known when his appeal will be heard.