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Men Who Crossed Ice From U.S. Up To Canada Convicted Of Pot Charges

Herb Fellow

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Two Iowa men pleaded guilty Wednesday to marijuana charges in Canada after they fell through the ice of a partially frozen river while trying to illegally enter the country from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Daniel Rathjen, 19, of Marengo and John Lindley, 19, of Iowa City each pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, said RCMP Const. Al Montgomery. Another charge they faced, possession of marijuana for the purpose of export, was withdrawn.

The case began when the men bought just over half a kilogram of marijuana in Toronto, Montgomery said. The men thought they could avoid border control by crossing a narrow strip of the St. Mary's River, running between Canada and the United States, Montgomery said. But they found the river wasn't fully frozen when they arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

So on Jan. 10 they stuffed four plastic bags filled with marijuana into a duffel bag, which they then hid under a private covered dock along the river.

Rathjen and Lindley told police they drove more than 800 kilometres back to Iowa, then after a week noticed the Iowa River had started to freeze. They assumed that if the Iowa River was frozen, then the St. Mary's River would also be frozen, Montgomery said.

They drove to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and took a ferry to Sugar Island. From there, they attempted to cross to the Canada shoreline on Jan. 20. Just eight metres from the border, they fell through the ice.

Residents called 911, but the two managed to make it to the Canada side.
"A neighbour ... gave them a hot drink and change of clothes because they were freezing," Montgomery said.

The men told authorities they came to retrieve the stashed marijuana, and officials found the drugs at the dock, buried under a pile of snow.

Both were sentenced to serve 75 days at an Ontario jail.

Source: The Canadian Press
Copyright: 2008 The Canadian Press
Contact: Staff
Website: The Canadian Press: Men who crossed ice from U.S. UP to Canada convicted of pot charges
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