(Kat Slepian/Black Press Media)

Saanich man arrested in cross-border drug smuggling operation

William Milton Barnes of Greater Victoria faces multiple charges following six-month investigation

A six-month joint Canada-U.S. investigation has led to a slew of charges for two men after dozens of kilos of narcotics and weapons were seized.

Officials at a press conference in Surrey Wednesday said that William Barnes of Saanich, and Gary Horton of Washington state have been charged with a number of drug trafficking and firearms-related charges.

Barnes, 51, is facing 11 charges including importing cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, possession of trafficking methamphetamine, possession for the purpose of trafficking heroin, two counts of possession of a prohibited large capacity magazines and possession of proceeds of a crime.

Federal RCMP Chief Supt. Keith Finn, who is the force’s deputy criminal operations officer, said that the operation was carried out as part of the Pacific Shiprider program.

Barnes was arrested in February 2017 but Finn said that it took 14 months to lay charges.

He declined to answer if Barnes had been know to police prior to his arrest.

Dozens of kilos of methamphetamine were seized. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

Officials intercepted a shipment coming by boat from the U.S. into Canada near the U.S. San Juan Islands off the south coast of Vancouver Island.

“Large bags were transferred from one vessel to the other. When the boat returned to Victoria, officers detained Mr. Barnes under the Customs Act and located bricks of what appeared to be illegal narcotics,” said Finn.

Police then searched Barnes’ Saanich home and seized more than 55 kilograms of cocaine, more than 47 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than one kilogram of heroin, 15 firearms, more than $150,000 in cash and a large-capacity magazine. They also seized two high-speed boats.

The two boats seized from William Barnes’ residence in Saanich, B.C. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

U.S. border security officials caught the U.S. vessel as it headed back towards Washington state following the drug deal.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) then interviewed Horton and seized 35 kilograms of cocaine and 37 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Horton has plead guilty to conspiring to export narcotics and is scheduled for sentencing in September, said Dan Behrends, acting sssistant special agent in charge for HSI Blaine.



ragnar.haagen@bpdigital.ca

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