US border agents bust US-Canada 'ecstasy smuggling ring'

Map of Sumas, WA

Four people are in custody in the US and Canada after a suspected drug smuggler fired on US border agents and fled, sparking a day-long manhunt.

The incident began on Tuesday morning when border agents encountered two men carrying backpacks five miles (8km) east of Sumas, Washington, in the US.

Authorities say agents interrupted an attempt to smuggle a load of MDMA, or ecstasy, from Canada to San Francisco.

Two others were arrested and accused of planning to transport the drugs.

On Tuesday morning, US border agents ordered the two men they encountered near the border to halt, officials said.

One of the men dropped his backpack, fired a weapon at the agents, and ran, according to a criminal complaint filed in US federal court in Washington on Wednesday.

The officers took the other man, identified as Jeffrey Laviolette, into custody immediately.

Canadian and US police searched for the fugitive on foot and by helicopter, putting up road blocks.

Nathan Hall, a Canadian citizen, was arrested by the Abbotsford Police Department in British Columbia early on Wednesday morning.

According to border patrol agents, the backpacks Mr Hall and Mr Laviolette were carrying contained a total of 58lb (26kg) of ecstasy.

Also inside one backpack was a California driver's licence with the name of William Nickerson but a picture of Nathan Hall, the complaint alleges.

Investigators later arrested a Bellingham, Washington woman, Kali Henifin, who they say planned to pick the two men up at the border. They also arrested her boyfriend, Ryan Lambert, who allegedly told officers he was to be paid $11,000 (£7,270) to drive the drugs to San Francisco.

Ms Henifin told agents they had been monitoring police radio communication on a mobile phone when they heard a report of a shooting and left the area, according to the complaint.

The three defendants in US custody face conspiracy as well as drug possession and distribution charges.

The wooded area a few miles east of a highway border crossing is a well-known smuggling route for drugs and firearms, and a spokeswoman for the US attorney for the Western District of Washington told the BBC smuggling prosecutions are "a large part of our practice".

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain


  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'


  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?


  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets

Programmes

  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.