PORTLAND (AP) – The leader of a smuggling operation that brought marijuana, LSD and Ecstasy from Canada into Maine was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years and a month in federal prison.

Robert Shimek, who pleaded guilty in October to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, was a fugitive for seven years before he was arrested a year ago in Innesfail, Alberta.

During the hearing, Shimek apologized for his actions as his parents and brother sat in the courtroom.

He had faced 20 years to life in prison when he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gene Carter. He also faces drug charges in Minnesota, where he has been wanted since 1994.

The drugs originated in Canada and were carried in backpacks across unguarded portions of Maine’s 611-mile border with Canada, investigators said.

From there, the hikers were picked up by cars.

and taken to a stash house in Caribou, where the drugs were unpacked and sorted, then distributed at Grateful Dead, Phish and Widespread Panic concerts, investigators said.

“It was an extensive web of drug distribution, extending not only through Maine but up and down the East Coast,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Toof.

The organization led by Shimek began to unravel after a drug raid in 1998 in Westbrook. Police officers found 34 pounds of marijuana, three guns and address books. Police recovered cell phones, pagers and miscellaneous items, and a juvenile who was arrested agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Shimek was the 19th person to be charged and convicted as a result of the investigation, Toof said. He was apprehended after being featured in an episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”

AP-ES-06-04-03 1703EDT



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