Smuggling Guns, Drugs Into Canada Nets A Decade Behind Bars

Smuggling guns, drugs into Canada nets a decade behind bars

'You have actually gone as low as you can go,' U.S. judge tells American Evans Matan, sentenced as part of a cross-border smuggling ring

By Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun
July 4, 2009

American gun and drug smuggler Evans Matan was sentenced to a decade behind bars in the U.S. this week for helping to bring 228 kilos of cocaine and three firearms into B.C.

Matan, a 36-year-old skate-shop owner, was working for Vancouver businessman Charles Lai, who was sentenced in a Seattle courtroom last month to 13 years in jail as the leader of a cross-border smuggling ring.

Also charged on the Canadian side are Herman Riar, 26, and Shminder Johal, 34, both of Richmond, and Baljinder Kandola, who was a border guard with the Canada Border Services Agency at the time.

All three are due back in Surrey Provincial Court Aug. 18.

U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart said it was one of the largest cocaine transactions to come before his court.

“When you start loading guns and cocaine in your own residence, you have actually gone as low as you can go,” Robart told Matan.

Matan, a long-time drug trafficker, was arrested Oct. 26, 2007, after the seizure of 228 kilos of cocaine at the border. He had paid a co-conspirator to move the cocaine from his Poulsbo, Wash. home to a storage locker in Bothel, Wash.

Other accused drove the cocaine and firearms to the border, where arrests were made. The investigation was conducted by law enforcement officers in both countries.

On Oct. 24 and 25, 2007, Blaine and Seattle immigration and customs agents followed Riar as he crossed the border at Blaine and drove to the storage unit. They watched as he allegedly loaded boxes containing cocaine into his vehicle and crossed back into B.C.

Riar was arrested by RCMP once back in Canada and both cocaine and guns were seized.

Matan pleaded guilty more than a year ago, but was sentenced Wednesday.

At the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Lally told the court Matan had been involved in the drug trade for years, sending B.C. marijuana to Chicago and southern California and shipping cocaine north to Canada.