June 21, 2018
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Canadian sentenced to 9 years for smuggling oxycodone across border

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A Canadian man who admitted to smuggling more than 100 pills of oxycodone across the border in a body cavity was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to nine years in federal prison.

James F. Mills, 40, of Lubec and Campobello Island, New Brunswick, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

Mills was stopped about 6:45 p.m. Sept. 11, 2009, at the Lubec border crossing, according to court documents. Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement received a tip from an informant that he would be smuggling drugs he had obtained in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

When first interviewed by agents, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mills denied he was smuggling drugs. After the interview, he was taken to Calais Regional Hospital, where he was handcuffed to a bed and told that he would remain there until he had to go to the bathroom, according to court documents.

Shortly after 8 a.m. the next day, Mills consented to an X-ray, according to the documents. He passed a condom filled with 104 80-milligram oxycodone pills less than an hour later.

Mills pleaded guilty in January 2010 to the importation of a controlled substance.

After being sentenced in federal court Thursday, Mills appeared in Piscataquis County Superior Court on state charges related to criminal activity he allegedly engaged in while he was being held at that county’s jail on the federal drug charge.

In January 2011, the Piscataquis County grand jury indicted Mills for making home-brew in his cell and for having a razor blade. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Mills pleaded guilty to to carrying a concealed weapon and the charges related to the home brew — trafficking in prison contraband and trafficking in an alcoholic beverage in an adult correctional facility — were dismissed.

Mills was sentenced to 30 days for the misdemeanor crime to be served concurrently with his federal sentence, Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Thursday night.

Mills faced up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 on the concealed weapon charge.

On the federal drug charge, he faced up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, his recommended sentence was between seven years and three months and nine years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey urged Woodcock to impose the maximum guideline sentence, pointing to records obtained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which showed that during the 16 months before his arrest, Mills exchanged about $370,000 in U.S. currency for

Canadian cash at a New Brunswick currency exchange house. Casey said those were proceeds from Mills’ drug smuggling operation and that between Jan. 1, 2009, and the time he was caught, Mills crossed the border 231 times.

Mills admitted to police that he had smuggled oxycodone across the border more than once.

Defense attorney Richard Hartley of Bangor told the judge that not all of the U.S. currency his client converted to Canadian money was from his own illegal activities. Hartley said that his client had converted large amounts of American cash for a Canadian marijuana dealer, but refused to name the person.

Mills also claimed to have earned money as a sea urchin diver and a carpenter, but the men the defendant said he worked for denied hiring him, Casey told the judge.

Casey said after the sentencing that Woodcock found the $370,000 to be proceeds from Mills’ smuggling operation.

An ICE official praised law enforcement officials on both sides of the border for their work on the case.

“This case is yet another example of our ability to go beyond our borders to work as an international team of investigators to identify, intercept and apprehend those who try to smuggle contraband into the United States,” Bruce M. Foucart said in a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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