Four Canadians suspected of marijuana smuggling were arrested Thursday
morning as they tried to unload a barge on Deception Pass State Park land
fronting Cornet Bay.

Police found 15 big cardboard moving boxes stored in the hold of the small
barge, which had been pushed ashore by a small tug. The boxes contained 446
pounds of marijuana in 374 plastic bags.

The tug, named Delta Fox, and the barge were both registered in British
Columbia, according to police at the scene. There were three men in the tug.

A yellow Penske rental truck had been backed up to the shoreline to accept
the delivery. The truck driver was seized.

State Trooper Scott Wernecke said a U.S. Customs agent opened one of the
cardboard boxes and identified the contents as 20 to 25 pounds of Canadian
marijuana, known in law enforcement circles as BC Bud.

Not all of the boxes were opened, however. They had been removed from the
barge and stored in the Penske truck. An officer with a drug-sniffing
German shepherd went over the unopened boxes.

Deception Pass Park Manager Bill Overbee said suspicions were aroused at
about 7 a.m. Thursday when park staffers wondered why an apparent
commercial operation was taking place on park land.

"Commercial use at a parks facility is not sanctioned," he said.

Overbee dispatched Rangers J.L. Aggergaard and Henk Sikkenga to investigate.

"The park's marine guy saw it coming in," Ranger Aggergaard said of the tug
and barge. "A commercial vessel in a state park -- it was kind of 'off'.' "

The marine guy was aboard the park's maintenance boat, the Thunderbird.

Aggergard said the suspects caused no problems when approached.

"They were pretty cooperative, but their stories didn't match up," he said.

The rangers called dispatch which alerted appropriate authorities.

By 9 a.m., the suspects were being held in the back seats of police cars.
Officers from the Island County Sheriff's Office, State Patrol, U.S.
Customs, and other agencies were present. A number of undercover agents in
plain clothes milled around the scene. A few nearby residents looked on
curiously as did several anglers fishing from a public dock not far from
where the barge hit the beach.

All four suspects were taken to the Oak Harbor jail later that morning.

"They used our facility to hold all four and do interviews," said Police
Captain Rick Wallace.

U.S. Customs agents took the suspects away later in the day to a jail
facility in Seattle.

On Friday afternoon in in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the four men were
charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and
importation of marijuana. Suspects Edward Guy Bolderson, 63, Mark Edward
Bolderson, 40, Guy Cameron Crawford, 42, and Peter Francis Mitchell, 34 are
all being held in jail.

According to the charging documents, one of the men threw a piece of paper
into the brush. Island County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Norrie retrieved it and
found that it listed the names of several individuals the men were going to
meet in Oak Harbor.

Plenty of BC Bud is coming into the U.S. from Canada, by land and by sea.
Peg Fearson, a U.S. Customs inspector in Blaine, said that since October
2001, two tons of BC Bud have been found hidden in commercial trucks trying
to cross the border at Blaine.

"The wholesale value of two tons of this high potency BC Bud is
approximately $12 million," she wrote in an article posted in January on
the Customs Web site.

The Cornet Bay haul was about one-tenth of that, so the value may be around
to $1.2 million.

Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: Wed, 20 Mar 2002
Source: South Whidbey Record
P.O. Box 387, Langley WA 98260
Author: Jim Larsen