Nanaimo man arrested at U.S. border for trying to bribe customs officials

NANAIMO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers accuse suspect of drug possession and bribery attempt.

A Nanaimo man faces charges

A Nanaimo man faces charges

A man from Nanaimo has been arrested for allegedly trying to cross into the U.S. with marijuana, ammunition and then attempting to bribe a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.

Brian James DeCoteau, of Nanaimo, was arrested and charged in Whatcom County court with bribing a public official, which is a Class B felony and under U.S. federal law can carry a prison term of 10 to 25 years and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The incident happened Monday when the suspect tried to enter the U.S. at the Sumas border crossing, near Abbotsford.

“You know one of the things that is significant about this case is that this individual, this suspect, offered a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer a bribe, a $200 bribe,” said Jaime Ruiz, Los Angeles-based spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Ruiz wouldn’t go into details about how the bribe was allegedly proffered, but said the customs officer stayed calm, agreed to accept the bribe and, when presented, arrested the suspect.

The bribe was allegedly offered in an attempt to get customs officers to let the suspect go after marijuana, drug paraphernalia and ammunition were found in the suspect’s vehicle.

“What’s pretty amazing is that the amount of drugs that he was bringing was 0.7 grams of marijuana, two marijuana pipes and two shotgun shells and that was it,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz categorized the amount of marijuana as “minuscule” and legal in Washington State, even though it is still illegal to transport it across the border under U.S. federal law.

“You’ve seen that show, America’s Dumbest Criminals? Well, this could qualify for that. It’s amazing that, I don’t know, for so little, you get deep in trouble by trying to bribe a U.S. officer.”