Canadian man gets nearly 9 years for his role in international drug smuggling ring

Posted Dec. 19, 2013, at 6:40 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — One of two Canadian men who helped a St. John Valley man smuggle cocaine from Texas to the Maritimes was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to eight years and eight months in federal prison for his role in an international drug ring.

Matthieu LeBlanc, 31, of Shediac, New Brunswick, pleaded guilty a year ago to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 10 kilograms or more of cocaine as part of a plea agreement and testified against others in the drug ring that operated between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 28, 2012.

The 18 months or so that LeBlanc has been held without bail waiting for the case to be resolved will be applied to his sentence. He has been held recently at the Strafford County Jail in Dover, N.H.

LeBlanc’s codefendant, Chad Hallett, 31, of Dieppe, New Brunswick, is serving a four-year sentence on the same charge at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution in Philipsburg, Pa., according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator website.

Apolinar “Polo” Ortiz Islas, 42, was found guilty of the same charge last week. Ortiz Islas, LeBlanc and Hallett were indicted last year by a federal grand jury along with Victor “Vic” Charles, 32, of Bacliff, Texas, and Robert “The Border Guy” Rossignol, 60, of Van Buren. All but Ortiz Islas pleaded guilty. He, Rossignol and Charles are awaiting sentencing.

Rossignol was charged after Hallett was seen by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement receiving nearly $300,000 in cash in a box from Rossignol in a Houlton parking lot on June 27, 2012, according to court documents.

A short time later, Hallett was stopped for speeding by Maine State Police, and a K-9 unit discovered $298,585 inside a box in the trunk, according to court documents. Hallett and LeBlanc agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and helped set up the deal that led police to Charles and Ortiz Islas. They also testified at Ortiz Islas’ trial.

LeBlanc faced between 10 years and life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, LeBlanc faced between 15 years and eight months and 19 years and seven months in prison.

He was not fined and was not eligible for supervised release, as he is expected to be deported to Canada after his release from prison.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock reduced LeBlanc’s sentence on the recommendation of Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.

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