Smugglers busted with small haul
law enforcement nabbed two marijuana smugglers dressed for
the big time, but only seized three pounds of pot.
Just before 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, border patrol agents saw two men in military fatigues appearing to carry backpacks, run into the woods off Harvey Road. Agents brought in local police and sheriffs deputies and a canine unit and, several hours later, apprehended the pair as they left the woods on the north side of H Street. Everyone went in and waited them out, said John Bates, assistant chief of the local border patrol sector.
They worked their way through the woods and eventually came out.
John Emmett Brown, a 31-year-old U.S. citizen and Nadeem Zulfikarali Shamji Thobani, a 22-year-old naturalized Canadian, originally from the United Kingdom, were not carrying backpacks when arrested. They did, however, have on bulletproof vests and Brown had bear repellent pepper spray. They said that was for dogs, and naturally these people are afraid of being robbed themselves, Bates said.
The Whatcom County Sheriffs Office drug detection dog searched the area and found a black military-style knapsack/ammunition carrier containing three pounds of marijuana.
Blaine detective Ryan King said camouflage and flak jackets arent unusual as smuggler attire, but it was unusual for such a small load. You dont commonly see that with smaller amounts, he said.
Bates said officers, agents and deputies with the dog had searched the area for several hours but found nothing. We searched the area thoroughly but that doesnt mean 100 percent something isnt there, Bates said when asked if the pair could have dropped weapons or more drugs in the woods. We dont think, and we hope, theres anything out there. He said the heavy getups could be more personality than profession. Its not the first time weve encountered this. Unfortunately there are fringe elements who can be a little wacky, he said.
The pair were turned over to Blaine police and are now in Whatcom County Jail awaiting arraignment on charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.