Police seized more than 55 kilograms of cocaine, 47 kilograms of methamphetamine, one kilogram of heroin, 15 firearms, $150,000 in cash and a large-capacity magazine from a Saanich home. They also seized two high-speed boats. (Kat Slepian/Black Press Media)

Saanich man charged in cross-border drug smuggling operation pleads guilty

William Milton Barnes was charged following a six-month joint investigation

A Saanich man pleaded guilty to four out of 11 charges following a six-month joint Canada-U.S. investigation that saw dozens of kilos of narcotics and weapons seized.

William Milton Barnes, 51, entered his plea — for three counts of importing a controlled substance and one count relating to the possession of a prohibited large-capacity magazine — in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Tuesday.

Barnes, along with Gary Horton of Washington State, were charged in April 2018 with a number of drug-trafficking and firearms-related charges.

RELATED: Saanich man arrested in cross-border drug smuggling operation

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 federal RCMP Chief Supt. Keith Finn, at a press conference in Surrey back in April 2018.

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

RELATED: Case for accused Saanich drug smuggler pushed to Supreme Court of B.C.

U.S. border security officials intercepted the U.S. vessel as it headed back towards Washington State.

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

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

Barnes’ next court appearance will be on Jan. 31, 2020, for a pre-sentence report.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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