Saturday, July 18, 2009

Connecticut Man Puts Legal Training to Bad Use - His Own

Law student at U. Connecticut ran international drug operation

John Belanger, who appeared to be a rising 3L at the University of Connecticut, will likely be deferring his third year of law school. He has some bigger legal issues to deal with.

Belanger, 27, was arrested last week for his role in running an international drug ring.

Federal authorities have charged more than 45 people nationwide over their alleged roles in an international drug-smuggling operation that moved $1 billion worth of marijuana.

The two-year investigation exposed a pipeline moving thousands of pounds of marijuana each month from the north country to numerous U.S. cities, including Boston, New York and Miami, prosecutors said. The crime syndicate is alleged to have moved the marijuana, which came from Canada through the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Franklin County and near Churubusco in Clinton County, over the past four years..

Zachary Gouchie, 24, of Montreal, Edward Kener, 31, of Weston, Fla., and John Belanger, 27, of Hartford, Conn., were accused of recruiting people and directing the movement of the marijuana along the East Coast.

Given that this started four years ago, it looks like Belanger decided to go to law school in order to give legal advice to his drug cartel. Those with knowledge of Belanger tell us about his exploits at UConn and his special interest in American Indian law.

The DEA seized $6 million in cash, more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana and 55 pounds of cocaine last week. According to the DEA press release, Belanger, along with others, is being charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, conspiracy to import more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments:

In addition to acting as a courier himself, BELANGER was responsible for recruiting, employing, and coordinating couriers, who typically used rental vehicles and traveled in tandem with "blocking" vehicles which scouted ahead for law enforcement, communicated potential problems to couriers, and intentionally violated traffic laws to protect couriers. The organization transported the marijuana in heat-sealed bags inside large duffle bags labeled with a number and customer identification or destination.

How did he have time to study?

Apparently, he made time to focus on his important classes.

UConn Law offers a unique course on "American Indian Law", which Mr. Belanger took, and apparently used to help navigate the transport of narcotics across Native American lands. He literally stuck around after class to ask the professor questions on the jurisdiction of federal authorities over native american lands. Now that's putting your law school education to good use!!

But Belanger had time for fun too. At the school's charity auction, he bid on and won some sort of "Dean for a Day" prize. One wonders if he bought it with drug money.

We bet the Dean is also pondering that question.

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