Prairie drug case nets 12 years in jail

A Coldstream carpenter has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for his role in the largest drug case in Saskatchewan’s history.

A Coldstream carpenter has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for his role in the largest drug case in Saskatchewan’s history.

William Bruce Larsen, 51, pleaded guilty in August to four counts of unlawfully importing cocaine, unlawfully exporting ecstasy to the U.S., possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking.

On Thursday in Swift Current, Judge T.J. Keene of the Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan sentenced Larsen to a total of 12 years in jail, but gave him credit for 11 months served in custody, meaning his total jail time is 11 years and one month.

“I see his role as wrong-minded and contrary to the law and common sense,” said Keene in pronouncing Larsen’s sentence.

Court heard that Larsen became involved in a multi-million dollar, cross-border drug smuggling operation between Montana, B.C. and Saskatchewan in 2011.

Larsen was involved in seven trips between February and October, 2011.

He personally picked up six loads of cocaine totalling 611 kilograms, transported them back to B.C. and arranged for another driver to pick up and transport 30 kilos of cocaine.

All of the deliveries were to go to organizations and individuals involved in cocaine trafficking.

Larsen also delivered one load of ecstasy, totalling 95,000 pills, to a same location for distribution of the pills into the U.S. for further trafficking.

The value of the cocaine in the seven loads ranged from $25 million wholesale to $77 million retail. The value of the pills was estimated at $1.9 million.

Crown counsel submitted that Larsen was “a courier and an underling with only one real role, to drive the drugs back to B.C.,” and sought a prison sentence of 18 years.

However, the judge agreed with defence’s argument for a 12-year sentence for importing the cocaine, 12 years concurrent for possession, and three years concurrent for the ecstasy charges.

Keene noted that Larsen showed remorse for his part in the drug ring.

“Mr. Larsen addressed the court. He appears genuinely sorry for his actions,” said Keene. “He struck me as being anxious, nervous and rather unhealthy looking. His remand time has obviously been very difficult.”

Larsen, who was arrested at his Coldstream home in October 2011, is one of six North Okanagan residents arrested in connection with this drug operation.

One Vernon man was arrested in the U.S. He was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this year.

Matters are still before the courts for the other four accused.