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Saturday, 25 April 2009

Clayton Roueche founder of the UN gang is scheduled to enter a guilty plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

06:24 |

Clayton Roueche is scheduled to enter a guilty plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It wasn't immediately clear Friday if he would plead to all or just some of the charges against him. No plea agreement has been made public, and his lawyer, Todd Maybrown, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.Roueche, of Vancouver, British Columbia, had long steered clear of the U.S. because he feared arrest - telling one woman in a monitored conversation he couldn't drive her to Bellingham, Wash., because he'd spend the next 20 years in a U.S. prison.But he was finally caught last year after he tried to attend a wedding in Mexico. Mexican authorities wouldn't let him enter the country, and at the request of the Americans, they put him on a flight home that landed first in Dallas.U.S. authorities immediately arrested him based on a then-sealed indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and to launder money.The charges against him stem from an investigation called Operation Frozen Timber, which uncovered the smuggling of tons of marijuana into the U.S. by private planes and helicopters. When results of the investigation were announced in 2006, federal agents had arrested 40 people and seized roughly 4 tons of marijuana, 800 pounds of cocaine, three aircraft and $1.5 million in cash.
Canadian officials say Roueche founded the UN gang - so called because of its ethnic diversity - in the Fraser River Valley southeast of Vancouver about 12 years ago."This is a significant case that will have an effect on this organized crime group," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Tim Shields said Friday. "The UN gang poses a significant risk to public safety in the greater Vancouver area and beyond, and it has been linked to drug trafficking, violent crimes and murders."In recent months, Mexican soldiers have clamped down on the cocaine trade there, dramatically cutting the supply and driving up prices in the U.S. and Canada, investigators say. As a result, gangs in British Columbia that export marijuana and import cocaine and guns have been fighting over the remaining supply. There have been more than 30 killings in the Vancouver area this year, with police attributing many of them to gangs.

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