by Keith Fraser/Special to the Langley Advance
Two B.C. brothers accused of conspiring to smuggle large quantities of cocaine and ecstasy across the border have been ordered extradited to the U.S.
The case involves a drug deal staged in the parking lot of a Langley theatre.
Oscar Edgardo Mendoza and Rember Oswaldo Guevara-Mendoza were charged after authorities seized 54 kilograms of cocaine in the United States that was destined for Canada and 59 kg of ecstasy in Canada that was headed for the U.S.
The drugs were seized following an elaborate undercover operation involving police and drug-enforcement officials on both sides of the border.
Evidence against the brothers consisted mainly of phone and text communications they had with a man in Washington State who knew them and was, unbeknownst to them, working with law enforcement.
In July 2012, after communications between the accused and the man identified only as a “confidential witness,” 29 kg of cocaine destined for Canada was seized in Bellingham, Wash.
Authorities replaced a suitcase full of the 29 kg of cocaine they had seized with a substance resembling cocaine. The suitcase containing the sham cocaine was then smuggled across the border and later recovered by police and drug-enforcement officials at an Abbotsford home.
Apparently unaware that one of their shipments had been seized, the brothers continued to conspire to traffic in drugs across the border, according to evidence presented in court. Two more shipments of cocaine – 14 kg in August 2012 and another 11 kg in December 2012 – allegedly linked to the brothers were seized by police in Washington State.
In February 2013, RCMP recovered 41 clear-plastic, heat-sealed bags from two backpacks in one of the brother’s vehicles in the parking lot of a Langley theatre. Each bag contained ecstasy pills, the total weight of the drugs being 59.8 kg.
At the extradition hearing, Rember Mendoza admitted he was the person being sought, but his brother, Oscar, challenged the identification evidence and applied to have the case thrown out on that basis alone. But in a ruling committing the two brothers for extradition, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Patrice Abrioux dismissed Oscar’s arguments.
The judge also rejected other arguments by the accused, including that the evidence against them was entirely circumstantial and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“I accept the applicant’s submission that the requesting state has established a prima facie case that the conduct of the (accused) demonstrates that they intended to conspire to export cocaine and import (ecstasy),” the judge said.
The judge said that the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury properly instructed to find that the brothers were engaged in the crimes with which they are charged.
– Keith Fraser is a reporter with the Vancouver Sun.
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