Canadian faces marijuana charges

Posted April 02, 2010, at 9:27 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:31 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Canadian man accused of smuggling more than a ton of marijuana into Maine made his first appearance Friday in U.S. District Court on drug conspiracy charges.

Andre Picard, 49, of Riceville, New Brunswick, is charged with running a drug distribution operation between September 2005 and at least March 2007. He allegedly distributed 2,200 pounds of marijuana to Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina. Riceville is located about 30 miles southeast of the Maine border at Houlton.

Picard was arrested Thursday in Maine. The circumstances surrounding his arrest were not included in court documents.

But the investigation that led to his arrest began in the summer of 2006 when agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement learned that people “living in the Madawaska area were responsible for transporting large amounts of Canadian-grown marijuana to points south,” according to an affidavit filed with the court on Thursday.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk ordered that Picard be held without bail until Monday, when a detention hearing is scheduled. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked that Picard be held without bail. He will be detained at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor over the weekend.

Picard delivers newspapers for the Telegraph-Journal, a daily newspaper based in Saint John, New Brunswick. His employment was made public when Kravchuk questioned Picard about his assets and income to determine whether he was eligible for a court-appointed attorney.

Because all of his assets, including several parcels of real estate with significant mortgages and vehicles, including a Smart car, are in Canada, Kravchuk appointed Terence Harrigan of Bangor to represent Picard.

Much of the information about Picard’s operation was outlined in the affidavit filed Thursday. It was attributed to cooperating witnesses and defendants who were not named.

If convicted of conspiracy to import marijuana and conspiracy to deliver marijuana, Picard faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison. He also could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $4 million.

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