Canadian admits smuggling pot into Beaver Island State Park using helicopter

July 1 – BUFFALO – A Hamilton, Ont., man has pleaded guilty to charges accusing him of attempting to fly nearly 50 pounds of marijuana into a Grand Island state park with a helicopter.

Raminderjit Assi, 28, pleaded in a proceeding before U.S. District Court Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. on Friday. Assi pleaded guilty to a single count of importing marijuana into the United States.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Assi is expected to be sentenced on October 16.

Federal prosecutors have charged Assi and a co-conspirator with researching methods of smuggling marijuana into the United States, including by helicopter. Prosecutors said Assi and the co-conspirator later obtained helicopter and helicopter pilot licenses.

On April 9, 2019, Assi and the co-conspirator allegedly flew the helicopter from Canada toward US Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security investigators. containing 49 kilograms of marijuana in the park.

Prosecutors said before another co-conspirator could retrieve the bags, US Border Patrol officers located them and seized the jar.

Radar data from the United States Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations and NavCanada showed that Assi and his co-conspirator turned off their helicopter’s transponder, did not not registered with the required towers and have not submitted a mandatory flight plan.

Surveillance video from the Canadian heliport where the two took off showed they prepared and used the helicopter for takeoff and returned to the helicopter later that day. Investigators said Assi later admitted he had flown the helicopter.

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