Langley man part of pair sentenced in U.S./Canada cocaine smuggling case

Canadian law enforcement worked with U.S. counterparts to catch the pair.

  • Aug. 26, 2015 12:00 p.m.

by Kim Bolan

Special to the Langley Advance

A Langley man and one from Burnaby were handed hefty sentences in B.C. Supreme Court for their roles in an international cocaine smuggling operation.

Christopher Lloyd Mehan, 43, and Langley’s Jeremy Albert Stark, 41, were convicted by a jury in April of conspiring to import cocaine. Stark was also found guilty of plotting to traffic the drug.

On Monday, Justice Ian Bruce Josephson sentenced Stark to 13 years and Mehan, of Burnaby, to a decade behind bars.

Josephson said both men were cocaine importers “at the wholesale level,” with connections to buyers and transportation networks in Canada.

He noted that Stark was a directing mind of the cross-border operation, along with American Lionel Alvarez, who was convicted earlier in California and sentenced to almost 16 years.

The B.C. men were snared in the investigation that was started in 2008 by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles.

“Using a confidential informant, the DEA were successful in distributing encrypted BlackBerry devices to members of an illicit drug organization,” Josephson said. “Some of the BlackBerry devices were successfully distributed to persons in Canada who were suspected of purchasing cocaine from Mr. Alvarez and importing the drug into Canada.”

The BlackBerrys used a server that was inside a DEA office, allowing agents to read all the messages as they were sent between drug gang members.

U.S. agents sent information to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit in B.C. “There was an extensive investigation of these activities on both sides of the border.”

The coordinated effort led to two large seizures of cocaine at the Pacific border crossing in December 2008.

The first was 121 kilograms – 65 of which “were brokered by Mr. Stark from Mr. Alvarez,” Josephson said.

“The second seizure was of 97 kilograms of cocaine at the border on December 24, 2008, in a shipment of bananas being carried by a commercial transport vehicle. Mr. Stark arranged the purchase and acquisition of the cocaine in Los Angeles, while Mr. Mehan organized its transportation from Los Angeles to Canada.”

After the U.S. investigation ended in 2009, the server was “physically moved to British Columbia to allow the CFSEU to continue the investigation on the Canadian side of the border,” Josephson said.

CFSEU announced the charges against Mehan, a Burnaby resident, and Stark, of Langley, as well as four others on Aug. 31, 2012.

CFSEU media officer Sgt. Lindsey Houghton said Tuesday the agency was “very pleased” with the tough sentences.

“These sentences are substantial and should not only hopefully serve as a warning but also as a deterrent,” Houghton said.

Josephson said both men “were motivated by profit and greed,” and that the operation involved “considerable planning.”

“Although perhaps a last resort, both Mr. Mehan and Mr. Stark were willing to resort to violence to recoup losses after the cocaine shipments were intercepted by authorities at the Canadian border.”

– Kim Bolan is a Vancouver Sun reporter.

For more from the Vancouver Sun, click HERE

 

Just Posted

Langley conservative activist accused City council of human rights violations over flags

Kari Simpson will complain to the B.C. Human Rights tribunal, she said.

O’Neill a homegrown power hitter

Tyler O’Neill of Maple Ridge made his major league debut this past season

Country stars help raise money, supplies for babies in need

JRfm’s Basics for Babies campaign is on Dec. 15 at the Langley Events Centre.

Extreme weather warning due to rain issued for Langley

Gateway of Hope homeless shelter to offer extra sleeping accommodation

Singers stop by with big bucks for Langley Christmas Bureau

First Capital Chorus has held Christmas bureau fundraising concerts for a quarter century.

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

UPDATE: Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

A vehicle incident has closed Highway 1 in both directions

Inquest scheduled into death of man in prison for gang-related killing

Gurwinder Mann, 39, died in Abbotsford while serving life sentence

Most Read