A man who allegedly fired a gun at border agents while fleeing during a drug-smuggling operation in April 2013 has been ordered committed for extradition to the U.S.
Nathan John Hall, 38, appeared last Friday (June 3) in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, where he was sought for prosecution in the U.S. for drug trafficking and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Hall, a Canadian citizen with an extensive criminal record in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, was arrested in Abbotsford on April 3, 2013 following a day-long cross-border manhunt.
The incident began the previous day, when U.S. border agents spotted two men walking through a forested area along the U.S.-Canada border from Abbotsford to Sumas, Wash.
Both fled, and one of the men – alleged to be Hall – fired a gun at the agents. The other man, Jeffrey Robert Laviolette of Surrey, was apprehended at the scene.
Two backpacks that were dropped by the suspects as they ran were seized by U.S. authorities and found to contain 58.5 pounds of the drug ecstasy.
Hall was arrested early the next morning at an Abbotsford apartment, and has remained in Canada until now.
Laviolette was held in custody in the U.S. and was sentenced in December 2013 to 10 years in prison on charges of conspiracy to distribute ecstasy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
Two others, Ryan Lambert and Kali Henifin, both U.S. residents, were also charged in the case. They had made plans to pick up the drugs from the two men and transport them to San Francisco.
Hall argued that he should not be extradited because authorities could not prove he was the second man involved in the drug-smuggling incident.
He said that although each of the three border patrol agents identified Hall as the individual involved after being shown a single photo, “eyewitness evidence is notoriously unreliable.”
That photo was from a California driver’s licence in the name of “William Nickerson” that was found in the backpack dropped by the man who fled back to Canada. Hall argued that he is not the person depicted in that photo.
However, Justice Paul Pearlman determined that the evidence – including expected witness testimony – is strong enough to lead to a conviction in the U.S. and ordered that Hall be committed for extradition.
Hall has 30 days to file an appeal of the extradition committal order, after which the Minister of Justice determines whether the extradition should proceed.