Marijuana smuggler convicted

After nearly five years of court cases and delays in the criminal justice system, the Clallam County prosecuting attorney's office brought Mathew Anderson to justice.

He was arrested on Jan. 16, 2004, in connection with a smuggling operation that was moving hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Canada to the United States through the North Olympic Peninsula.

After pleading guilty to a reduced charge of conspiracy to deliver marijuana, Anderson received the sentence of six months in jail and $1,900 in fines. Restitution to the Clallam County prosecuting attorney's office is yet to be determined.

Anderson initially was charged with conspiracy to deliver marijuana, possession of stolen property in the second degree and money laundering.

Anderson was one of three men caught in connection to the smuggling operation. Two other Canadian men loaded an inflatable boat with 530 pounds of marijuana and came across the strait to the peninsula. Their boat hit a snag, however, damaging the propeller and causing them to need assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Before officials arrived on scene, however, the two men stashed the marijuana on shore and got back into the boat. Anderson was the one who was supposed to receive the marijuana on the U.S. side of the water and take it to its next destination.

"He had sophisticated equipment for smuggling, such as night vision goggles," said Clallam County undersheriff Ron Peregrin, indicating the bust was a big one for the department to be a part of and that he was "happy to see it come to an end with a conviction."

Peregrin said cross-strait smuggling still exists but not at the same rate as five years ago.

"Smugglers are pretty smart. They track what we do and how we bust them and find new ways to get across that may work better, so we are always prepared for different styles of entry," Peregrin said.

He said the delay in a conviction came from constant continuances filed by Anderson's lawyers, adding that he had gone through several lawyers in the process.

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