Number Plate ‘SMUGLER’ doesn’t fool agents in cocaine case
January 31, 20132 min read
You would think a drug runner would know better than to get into a car with a personalized Number plate / license plate with the letters S-M-U-G-L-E-R.
Or that she would think twice before booking a room at the Smuggler’s Inn, a mere sprint from the Canadian border.
Homeland Security agents received a tip in mid-December about a cocaine deal at a Pizza Hut in Bellingham, Wash., the SeattlePI reported, citing recently released court documents. They set up surveillance at the Pizza Hut and watched as a GMC Yukon with a driver and two passengers pulled in. The license plate read SMUGLER. (Washington state license plates allow only seven letters, hence the dropped “G.”)
Agents followed the SUV to the Smuggler’s Inn, pulled it over and found, in a large, white box, nine bricks of cocaine weighing just under 24 pounds, the P-I reported. The driver, also the owner of the inn, said that he assumed it was a Christmas package, given the time of year.
One of the passengers, Jasmin Klair, 20, admitted that the illicit cargo was hers and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement officials, according to court documents. She explained to agents that she had been told to book at a bottom-floor room facing Canada at the Smuggler’s Inn, a bed and breakfast with rooms named “Al Capone” and “DB Cooper.” Klair wanted the “Captain’s Room,” about 150 feet from the border.
While agents interviewed her, she started receiving text messages from two men who had given her the job, the Vancouver Sun reported. Authorities prevailed on her to beckon the two men to the Smuggler’s Inn.
They arrived within minutes, the Sun reported, and made a run for it when police ordered them to stop.
One of the two men, Narminder Kaler, allegedly told agents that he would have received $2,000 for the deal, according to the Sun. He sorely needed it, he is alleged to have said, to pay off a $325,000 debt for losing 115 pounds of marijuana a year and a half ago.
Klair, 20, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring to distribute cocaine, the P-I reported. She will be sentenced on May 29. Kaler and Gurjit Sandhu are in jail and face similar charges, according to the P-I.
Boulé, the Smuggler’s Inn owner and driver of the SUV, took the recent events in stride. Last year, 57 people were arrested going through his property.
“It’s part of life on the border,” Boulé said. “The officers go through on the hour every hour. There are sensors in the yard. We’re on camera where we live.”