A Canadian man involved in smuggling marijuana to the United States was sentenced last week to time served after spending 295 days in federal custody.
Jason Boyachek, 43, of British Columbia, Canada, pleaded guilty in July to a conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana from 2005 to 2007. During last year’s U.S. District plea hearing, he admitted to participating in the marijuana conspiracy, which involved bringing in marijuana from Canada to locations in the United States and then transporting large quantities of money back to Canada.
According to court documents, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized 600 pounds of marijuana hidden in a truck as it entered the United States near Pembina, N.D., on May 14, 2007. The shipment was destined for a rural location in Delaware County, Iowa.
According to extradition documents involving Boyachek, the marijuana investigation spanned three years, and federal authorities arrested 38 people and seized 7,000 pounds of marijuana, 1,300 pounds of cocaine and more than $3.5 million in cash.
Jeff Kopp, a former Marion chiropractor, was involved the ring and was convicted in 2008, according to court documents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Reinert said Tuesday Boyachek wasn’t subject to the mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison because he met the “safety valve” sentencing, meaning U.S. District Senior Judge Mark Bennett had the discretion to go below the mandatory if certain criteria are met. Boyachek met that criteria because he lacked criminal history, he wasn’t the “ring leader” of the conspiracy — only a “money courier” who cooperated with the investigation.
Bennett has been outspoken against mandatory minimums for drug offenses.
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Reinert said a criminal forfeiture wasn’t pursued because authorities already seized over $237,000 from Boyachek during one transport in 2003 and another $738,000 from him in Chicago about three years later before he was charged.
After Boyachek was charged in 2009, he fought extradition from 2010 to 2014. He claimed, according to extradition documents, that Iowa federal prosecutors abused the process, which justified a stay in extradition, according to Canadian court officials.
Boyachek also argued that the main witness in his case recanted his claims against Boyachek, according to the documents. However, Boyachek eventually gave up and surrendered to U.S. authorities in April 2014.
Boyachek also was sentenced to three years supervised release following any prison time but Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a detainer on him and he went into custody after the hearing.
Reinert said Boyachek, a Canadian citizen, will be deported to Canada and only subject to the supervised release if he tries to re-enter the states.