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Friday, 29 July 2011

Two convicted in $26-million Island cocaine bust

Two men arrested in connection with a $26-million cocaine bust in Port Hardy in March 2010 have been convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Scott Pedersen, 39, a commercial diver and former Port Hardy fisherman, and Mexican citizen Vincente Serrano-Hernandez, 38, are to be sentenced next Monday.

After deliberating for a full day, a sombre-looking B.C. Supreme Court jury filed into court and delivered their verdict. Three women jurors left the courtroom in tears.

During the trial, which began in May, the jury heard the two accused were on board the Huntress when it sailed from Panama to Port Hardy, transporting 1,001 kilograms of cocaine.

The cocaine was brought ashore on Shushartie Bay in 37 duffel bags on March 6.

The Crown argued that the quality and value of the cocaine clearly indicated it was for drug trafficking, not for personal consumption.

The Crown also described the unusual circumstances surrounding the Huntress when it was seen by a patrol plane on a routine surveillance flight March 5 at Cape Scott. It was running without lights and travelling along the unsheltered west coast of Vancouver Island.

When the crew called the sailboat on the marine channel, the man who responded to a hail could not find the vessel's call sign or registration papers. The boat did not respond to a subsequent hail asking when it would arrive in Port Hardy.

Three hours later, using infrared radar, the surveillance crew captured a rendezvous between the Huntress and a smaller boat, which made two to four trips between the beach and the sailboat.

Defence lawyers Robert Mulligan and Jeremy Mills told jurors the Crown's evidence in identifying the sailboat was not good enough.



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