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Extradition ordered in alleged Okanagan-Shuswap cannabis smuggling via hollow logs

Three men to be extradited to U.S. in connection with trafficking charges involving B.C., California
BC Supreme Court rules on Oct. 8, 2021 that three men can be extradited to U.S. to face charges in connection with an alleged 2006 cannabis smuggling operation from the Okanagan-Shuswap to California. (File photo)

The Supreme Court of B.C. has reached a decision on extradition of three men in connection with drug trafficking offences involving cannabis being shipped in 2006 in hollowed-out logs from the Okanagan/Shuswap to the United States.

On Oct. 8, 2021 in Vancouver, a BC Supreme Court justice ruled that Shane Donald Fraser, Todd Ian Ferguson and Daniel James Joinson should be taken into custody to await extradition to the United States.

The judge determined there was “some evidence upon which a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could convict each of Fraser, Ferguson, and Joinson for conduct corresponding to the Canadian offences of conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance and trafficking in a controlled substance.” The ruling is not a judgment of guilt or innocence, but instead that enough evidence exists for the men to be extradited.

The case has been before the courts since 2012. Previous court documents described a time period from March to November 2006 during which it is alleged a criminal organization, with members in Canada and the United States, distributed hundreds of pounds of high-grade cannabis from B.C. to California. Hollowed-out logs packed with pot were reportedly imported into the U.S. by an American citizen who had been convinced to set up a log home business in Southern California, which eventually became a front for the distribution of cannabis. The logging truck drivers were reportedly not aware they were transporting anything but logs.

Deep Creek, Armstrong, Vernon and Kelowna were the Okanagan-Shuswap locations listed in the documents as part of the smuggling operation.

In those documents, Ferguson’s address in 2006 was listed as Vernon. No addresses were provided for Fraser or Joinson.

In 2015, a BC Supreme Court judge had made a similar ruling, allowing extradition to the U.S., but the three defendants appealed it. They are three of eight people who were initially charged. The BC Court of Appeal then ruled in 2017 that there should be a new hearing.

The U.S. subsequently went to the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the decision that was allowing a new hearing, but Canada’s top court didn’t permit their appeal. So the new hearing went ahead in B.C. Supreme Court, concluding on Oct.8 that the extradition to the U.S. could proceed.

According to the Oct. 8 court document outlining the judge’s reasons, the accused will not be surrendered to the U.S. until after 30 days have passed, and they have the right to appeal the order and apply for interim release from custody.

Read more: Drugs moved in hollow logs

Read more: Men facing extradition get new hearing
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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