Henry Rosenau will be well into his golden years when he is released from a U.S. jail.
The 61-year-old was sentenced in Seattle Thursday to 10 years in prison for years of cross-border pot and people smuggling.
Rosenau, of Armstrong, was “such a skillful pilot that he flew with weighted contraband in the cockpit, strapped to skids, hanging by short lines, and swinging by long lines,” a sentencing memo by the U.S. Attorney says.
” He flew before dawn, without lights and using night vision goggles. He landed in wooded areas or on rough and inadequate sites, and he skillfully landed his helicopters, sometimes bringing an aircraft within a couple of yards of a waiting vehicle. He flew under the radar, through narrow valleys, and over mountains and wilderness.
“In addition to smuggling drugs, Defendant Rosenau surreptitiously flew drug traffickers, such as Zachary Miraback and Dustin Haugen, into the United States because they were felons and could not legally enter the country.”
He also taxied some of the drug traffickers back home to B.C. “simply because it was a more expedient method than having them stop at a Port of Entry,” the court documents say.
Rosenau worked for a variety of criminal groups, including the United Nations gang.
“He occupied an important position within that world as a top-notch pilot who could issue orders to those below him,” the sentencing memo said. ” The defendant made a good income from his crimes, as evidenced by his large home on an expensive and expansive view lot, his purchase of additional river-front acreage, and his several aircraft.”
Rosenau told the judge back in July that he had decided to plead guilty after fighting the charges for years because: “I feel that by telling the truth, that by being a Canadian, I will probably get a treaty transfer and I’ll probably not have to do a whole bunch of time.”
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Read US Attorney’s sentencing memo:
B.C. helicopter pilot gets 10 years in U.S. jail for smuggling pot
An Armstrong helicopter pilot who admitted he flew pot across the border for B.C. gangs has been sentenced to 10 years in a U.S. jail.
Henry Rosenau, 61, will also be on supervised release for five years once he completes his prison term, U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a release.
Rosenau pleaded guilty in July 2012 to conspiracy to import marijuana, just hours before he was to go on trial for a second time.
His first Seattle trial ended in April 2012 with a hung jury.
In his plea agreement, Rosenau said he repeatedly smuggled thousands of pounds of marijuana into the U.S. from Canada, illegally flying at low levels to avoid radar, and landing in wilderness areas as far east as Montana.
At sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman decried the fact Rosenau had used his expertise to aid organized crime.
She said he “had skills that you turned into something sinister for your own greed…. You dumped lots and lots of drugs into this country that made their way into high schools and middle schools across Washington.”
Rosenau was one of dozens of Canadians identified in Operation Frozen Timber – the 2005 investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that identified organized crime groups smuggling B.C. pot by helicopter and planes south from Canada into the U.S., and smuggling cocaine north into Canada.
Rosenau admitted that from 2000 to 2005, he flew dozens of loads of marijuana into forested areas of Washington, Idaho and Montana. And he told authorities that he also flew B.C. residents into the U.S. to work as off-loaders and couriers for the drugs.
Rosenau was intercepted by the RCMP in 2005 upon returning to B.C. from a pot run. Police found a loaded handgun, night vision goggles, two satellite telephones, and a GPS device in the cockpit.
Rosenau fought his extradition to the U.S. for years, even filing lawsuits against witnesses, police and prosecutors to try to derail the case.
As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to dismiss the suits and admit they were frivolous.
Special agent Brad Bench, who’s in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security;s Seattle office, said: “The remote forest areas that concealed Rosenau’s and his co-conspirators’ smuggling operation also provided law enforcement with the perfect platform to observe their criminal activity.”
“Rosenau was the air courier service to several transnational criminal organizations,” he said.