Ten years later, marijuana trafficking case with ties to the Okanagan still far from over - InfoNews

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Ten years later, marijuana trafficking case with ties to the Okanagan still far from over

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April 06, 2017 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - More than a decade after the alleged crime took place, a trafficking case involving marijuana being smuggled from B.C. to the United States in hollowed out logs is still dragging through the courts.

Three of the eight men involved have been granted new extradition hearings in a recent ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal. The group is accused of distributing hundreds of pounds of high-grade marijuana from B.C. to California in 2006, where a log home business called Skookum Distributing provided a front for the distribution. Compartments were allegedly cut into the logs at an industrial area in the North Okanagan community of Armstrong.

Last Friday, March 31, Shane Fraser, Daniel Joinson and Tod Ian Ferguson had their committals for surrender to the U.S. overturned and their cases sent back to B.C. Supreme Court for new hearings.

According to an earlier court decision, Ferguson, who is represented by Salmon Arm defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen, had an address in Vernon as of 2006.

In a written decision, Justice Ian T. Donald said the previous judge erred in declining to order further disclosure (evidence) “instead presuming facts sufficient to justify the issuance of the authorizations.”

Evidence gathered in Canada must comply in substance with the rules of Canadian evidence to be admitted at the extradition hearing, and the judge must scrutinize such evidence for compliance with Canadian law, Donald said. He noted further information is needed to determine if wiretap evidence is admissible.

In California, the group is facing charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. 

Of the other men accused of being part of the smuggling ring, one has already been surrendered to the U.S., the Department of Justice Canada confirmed to iNFOnews.ca in an email. Darrell Romano, who had a Kelowna address as of 2007, was extradited to the U.S. on Dec. 8, 2016. A spokesperson for Justice Canada would not comment on any pleas or further details with respect to Romano’s case.

Meanwhile, three others, Aaron Randolph Anderson, Ivan Djuracic and Jamie Daniel Nenasheff sought leave to appeal their surrender orders to the Supreme Court of Canada, but, in a judgement released today, April 6, were all dismissed. 

The eighth man, Frank Romano, had his extradition request withdrawn by the United States. Justice Canada did not provide the reason why.

Extradition hearings are only a determination that the evidence is sufficient to warrant a person being extradited to another country. It is not a trial. A trial will take place in the requesting state if surrender is ordered. A person may be extradited from Canada only if the alleged criminal conduct is recognized as criminal by both countries.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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