Kirkland man charged with leading multimillion dollar international drug ring
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
May 23, 2011 · Updated 4:27 PM
A Kirkland man was charged by a federal grand jury as the head of a multimillion dollar international drug ring on May 11. Jacob Stuart, 39, is currently in the SeaTac Federal Detention Center and faces charges along with 23 others in connection with the ring that moved up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and up to 200 kilograms of cocaine every month, according to court documents.
Robert Wolverton, an investment mortgage broker of Bothell, has also been charged by federal prosecutors in connection with the case.
The drug smuggling was done by private airplane and in conjunction with the biker group Hells Angels to move the drugs to and from Canada, according to charging documents. Stuart, who federal prosecutors allege was the leader of the ring in the United States, and others moved marijuana from Surrey B.C. Canada to California, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey and then returned cocaine to Washington state. The cocaine was then moved to Canada, according to federal charging documents.
A Surrey B.C. strip-club owner, who also faces multiple charges and is believed to be the source of the marijuana, has strong ties to the British Columbia chapter of the Hells Angels.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials allege in court documents that Stuart "has been involved in drug trafficking for approximately 20 years."
Stuart was also allegedly one of five pilots who flew the planes.
One of the most disturbing charges is that Stuart, along with Wolverton and others, were caught on wire-tapped cell phones planning the kidnapping of a female friend of an associate that had gone missing with a substantial amount of money.
“(Stuart) was intercepted discussing violent acts to be directed at various people who owed the organization money,” federal prosecutors told the court.
Stuart also hired private investigators to find former associates that had taken money from the group.
The group used prepaid cell phones, encrypted Black Berries and a coded language to communicate. Most members of the group had nicknames that they went by such as Shorty, Old Guy, Slim, Harley, Betty and Slick.
According to court documents, intercepted and decoded messages showed that Stuart was aware of the consequences of getting caught: “That (expletive), that is what I am looking at, like not being able to see my kids ever again."
The federal government has seized more than $1.4 million, real estate in California and Seattle, two airplane hangers in California, a Beech airplane and 1,800 pounds of cocaine.
Most of the defendants, including Stuart and Wolverton, have entered not guilty pleas in the case. If convicted, prosecutors said Stuart could face 30 years to life in federal prison, with a minimum term of 10 years.Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.