Canadian man pleads to smuggling drugs

The front man of a Canadian rock band faces decades behind bars after admitting he smuggled loads of marijuana aboard a helicopter to the forests outside Darrington.

Michael Dudas, 35, is among dozens of people arrested in a two-year investigation that nabbed drug smugglers flying tons of drugs across the Canadian border into Washington.

Key members of the smuggling operation were arrested in 2005 in Snohomish County.

Dudas pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to conspiracy to import marijuana. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Dudas is among the many drug smugglers who have used Snohomish County as a distribution point for their operations. Earlier this month, federal authorities arrested the suspected kingpin of a multimillion-dollar drug ­trafficking ring with ties to the Hells Angels. The traffickers used the county as a shipment hub, authorities said.

Three Snohomish County residents also were indicted in connection with the smugglers busted June 5, including two people who are accused of storing the dope on their properties.

The drug traffickers allegedly trucked potent “B.C. Bud” in hollowed-out logs and stuffed in plastic drain pipes across the Canadian border to places such as Arlington and Stanwood. The dope was shipped across the country.

“We’re a distribution point and they’re smuggling in every way possible — boats, helicopters, trucks and backpacks through the woods,” Washington State Patrol Lt. Richard Wiley said.

Dudas admitted he paid $33,000 for a Robinson R-22 helicopter in Ohio and arranged for a pilot to fly marijuana into the states, federal prosecutors said. The dope was stuffed in large duffel bags and strapped to the outside of the helicopter. The cargo was off-loaded at a remote landing zone near Darrington, authorities said.

Two marijuana loads were seized in 2005. The pilot and off-loaders already have been sentenced in related cases.

Among those nabbed were two former part-time Edmonds Municipal Court judges, attorneys James White and Mark Vanderveen. They admitted to being paid off to help assist the drug traffickers.

Authorities were tipped off to the attorneys’ involvement after Doug Spink, a bankrupt Canadian businessman, was captured in February 2005 on U.S. 2 near Monroe. He had more than 374 pounds of cocaine in the back of his vehicle. The $34 million bust was one of the biggest in state history.

Authorities say they’ve seen a drop in marijuana smuggling across the Canadian border, but pot production is up in the state. Drug traffickers with ties to Canadian operations are setting up indoor marijuana farms across the Puget Sound area, Wiley said. The rings are buying houses and paying people to tend the growing plants.

The operations are bringing violence with them, authorities said. Two people were shot to death last year in an Everett house, where police found hundreds of marijuana plants. The victims were being paid to care for the dope.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or

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