Man who sought drugs smuggled by sled to be sentenced


RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A North Carolina man who court documents say imported drugs from Canada “utilizing the dark web” was sentenced Wednesday to spend two more days in jail for plotting to steal a shipment of counterfeit Xanax pills valued at $1.6 million that were pulled across the Vermont-Quebec border on a sled.

Yazid Al Fayyad Finn, of Cary, North Carolina, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Rutland to time served since his February 2018 arrest, plus two days.

The hourlong sentencing hearing focused on Finn’s efforts to leave a past of substance abuse and drug-dealing behind him.

Nothing was said about the origin of the shipment of pills or its intended destination in the United States. But there were hints of a cross-border smuggling operation that U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford referred to as “an interactive computer service” without offering any additional information in open court.

Prosecutors say Finn traveled to Vermont in January 2016 from North Carolina planning to steal almost 200 pounds (91 kilograms) of pills that had been dragged across the border at night on a sled by a Quebec man dressed in white who was apprehended by Border Patrol agents.

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Documents filed at the time of his arrest said Finn was involved in the distribution of Xanax in North Carolina and he sold the pills for $3 to $5.

In court, Finn, who pleaded guilty last summer to a charge of conspiracy to possess drugs and a gun charge from North Carolina, told Crawford that he had been sober for 405 days and that he was eager to improve his life.

“I stand before you accepting every iota of responsibility,” Finn said.

His defense attorney, Thomas Scherer, and Finn’s family declined comment after the hearing.

A heavily redacted sentencing memo filed by Scherer described Finn as a “shy, introverted geek (who) morphed into somebody importing drugs from Canada utilizing the dark web.”

The memo said Finn “was just starting the importation of counterfeit Alprazolam (Xanax) and was trying to increase dramatically the number of pill imported by this smuggling charge.”

Cedrik Bourgault-Morin, then 21, of Quebec, was wearing white in the early morning hours of Jan. 13, 2016, when U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended him after he had pulled the sled containing 300 vacuum-sealed bags of Xanax into the United States along a railroad line at North Troy, Vermont.

Bourgault-Morin was later sentenced to a year and a day in jail. He was released in November 2016.

Crawford said Finn was clearly trying to improve his life, but he warned him not to appear before a federal judge again.

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Prosecutors had asked Crawford to sentence Finn to between 72 and 78 months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Drescher declined comment after the hearing.

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