Drug Smuggling Interdicted Near San Juan Islands
SEATTLE — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish interdicted 24 kilograms of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) and detained a citizen of Taiwan from a boat near the San Juan Islands Thursday.
The Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security and Intelligence, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Bellingham Police Department working together arrested the suspected smuggler and seized an illegal drug shipment.
The contraband was discovered by a Coast Guard boarding team while onboard the vessel near President’s Channel. The suspected smuggler and illegal drugs and vessel were transferred to a Coast Guard vessel and taken to Station Bellingham.
“Coast Guardsmen, along with our federal, local and international partners, stand ready to respond to any illegal drug trafficking which erodes stability, security and prosperity,” said Lt. Cmdr. Pat Gallagher, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “It is a testament to the outstanding partnerships we have with other law enforcement agencies across the Pacific Northwest.
The suspect, 24-year-old Wen-Xian Zhang, was transferred to federal authorities. He is charged with importation and possession of MDMA with intent to distribute. Both charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Zhang remains in custody pending a detention hearing Friday.