Canadian grandmother Tina Howe has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to import and distribute 155,168 ecstasy pills from British Columbia into Washington state in 2007.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Howe, 58, and her accomplice Maria Cooke drove across the Sumas border on June 23, 2007 with the pills hidden inside a Dodge minivan’s roof compartment. While on the I-5 freeway, the compartment broke open and scattered the pills across the road. Cars driving over the pills created a pink and blue dust cloud above the road when state troopers arrived. After attempting to ditch more pills in a ditch, Howe and Cooke abandoned the vehicle, but were arrested shortly after.
During her trial in September, Howe confessed to her involvement in two other smuggling trips.
According to a letter of support sent in by Howe’s daughter-in-law, her dealings with the unarmed drug trafficking organization were made to protect her son.
“He wanted to get out of dealing and turn his life around, which led to people wanting him dead. Yes, this is a crime, but it was also an act of trying to save her son’s life. Being a mother myself, I completely understand.”
After receiving bail and being allowed to move back to B.C., Howe went into hiding “off the grid” for several years, Assistant U.S. Attorney Siddharth Velamoor said.
“Her absence resulted in significant cost to the court system, to law enforcement agents in both the United States and Canada, and even to her co-defendant, Ms. Cooke,” Velamoor wrote in a court-filed sentencing memo. “Ms. Howe now claims that she purportedly attempted to turn herself in to law enforcement at various times after she first absconded, there is absolutely no evidence that she actually did so.”