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Cocaine-filled backpacks land Federal Way man in jail

A 46-year-old Federal Way man was arrested for drug possession last weekend after he contacted United States Border Patrol agents to report a large quantity of cocaine that he had apparently lost somewhere near the U.S. and Canada border.

On Aug. 7, Leroy Carr told Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents that several days prior, he stashed two blue backpacks containing 31 kilograms of cocaine in some brush near the border. The backpacks were somewhere near the entrance to a Boy Scout camp, Carr said. When he returned the following day, he could not locate the drugs.

Thirty-one kilograms of cocaine is worth approximately $500,000, said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the United States Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case.

"This is probably the first time I have seen someone alerting agents that they had cocaine that they were smuggling across the border and that they had lost it," Langlie said. "I really couldn't speculate why he took that step."

Carr said on he wanted authorities to issue a press release saying they had seized the cocaine, so Carr wouldn't face retaliation from peers in the organized crime group he was involved with. He feared his peers would suspect him of stealing the drugs.

Authorities declined to issue the press release.

"At the time that Mr. Carr made that request, the government didn't have possession of the cocaine, so they certainly wouldn't have done that as it wouldn't have been factually accurate," Langlie said.

Two weeks later, on Aug. 21, a Boy Scout Ranger called the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force to report finding the two blue backpacks full of cocaine near the camp. The backpacks were dry and in good condition.

Carr was found Saturday morning, Sept. 15, about 100 yards south of the Sumas port of entry at the border. He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday.

Carr was likely attempting to distribute the cocaine in Canada, Langlie said.

"In general the smuggling is cocaine from the United States into Canada, B.C. Bud coming down the other way," she said.

Carr's arrest came after a string of run-ins with law enforcement near the border.

On Dec. 27, 2006, Carr was questioned by officers at the Pacific Highway port of entry when he was found carrying a backpack with more than $5,700 in cash, night vision goggles and a global positioning system (GPS) unit with coordinates for a trail known for drug smuggling.

The night vision goggles and GPS unit were equipment that would assist someone crossing the border where there weren't any street lights or roads, Langlie said.

Carr was arrested on Jan. 12 by Canadian officers in the Peace Arch Park for trying to illegally enter Canada. He was returned to the U.S. a few days later, when he was found carrying the same GPS unit and more than $9,400 in cash. On two other occasions before his recent arrest, Carr was found near the border carrying large sums of cash.

The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office and the Northwest Drug Task Force.

If convicted, Carr faces 10 years to life in prison.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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