BOTHELL — In March 2021, federal agents in Seattle got a tip from Australian border enforcement.
Australian officials had seized 39 hollowed-out computer hard drives shipped via UPS. The contents? Crystal methamphetamine, according to court documents.
Ryan Kane, of Bothell, was indicted three months later on drug conspiracy, distribution and possession with intent to distribute charges in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
In March of this year, Kane, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. On Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced Kane to five years in prison.
The March 2021 package to Australia came from Redmond, according to charging papers. The next month, another box destined for Australia arrived at a mail facility in San Francisco, this time containing 18 vacuum-sealed hard drives, federal prosecutors wrote. A federal official found a substance inside that tested positive for meth. There were over 1.3 kilograms of the drug.
A couple days later, officials reportedly found more than 1.7 kilograms in another package sent to Australia. Internet records showed Kane had frequently tracked the package online.
In June 2021, federal agents searched Kane’s apartment in Bothell. Inside a bedroom, they found about 15 hollowed-out hard drives containing meth, and a glass jar with nearly 1.7 kilograms of the drug, federal prosecutors alleged. The agents also recovered a loaded handgun on a couch in the apartment.
Kane acknowledged knowing about the meth, but said an outlaw motorcycle gang had extorted him into selling it, according to court papers. He wouldn’t name the people who threatened him.
In a letter to Judge James Robart before the Tuesday sentencing, Kane took responsibility for his “horrendous errors in judgment,” adding that “I have only myself to blame.” The defendant attributed his actions to a close relative’s suicide and opioid addiction. Despite repeated failed attempts, Kane is now in treatment, he wrote.
“My efforts to maintain a normal semblance of a life in the (throes) of drug addiction and grief was seemingly impossible,” Kane wrote. “… I have for the first time accepted I do not know what is right for me and that I can be helped.”
Worried incarceration could interrupt Kane’s treatment, his defense attorney urged Robart to sentence him to three years followed by a year of house arrest. Federal prosecutors pushed for six years. Robart decided on five.
Meth has been one of the deadliest drugs in Snohomish County. Last year, there were 354 fatal overdoses in the county, according to the medical examiner’s office. Meth contributed to 131 of those. So far this year, at least 41 people have died from meth overdoses.