Portland Pot Smuggler Gets Fed Time

A Portland man helped to smuggle close to $2.5 million worth of Oregon-grown marijuana out of the state. He got sentenced to a federal prison camp. Kyle Cerkoney, 40, and two friends shipped more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana across the country to places including New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Illinois and Minnesota.

Under the plea agreement, Cerkoney agreed to forfeit $570,278, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3, two Rolex watches, a diamond necklace, seven watches seized from his home and a Diamondback Model DB-15 rifle.

He smuggled the weed out of state in large hand-built crates. He was sentenced to nearly five years. When commercial freight companies started to reject or limit their freight shipments due to suspicions or seizures, Cerkoney started using smaller private freight transport businesses.

The criminal activity to make the drug proceeds appear as legitimate business revenue, they deposited less than $10,000 a time in bank accounts for fake companies they created called Transport 1 Logistics and PDX Payments Solutions. He laundered the proceeds of the marijuana operation through fake business bank accounts to try to disguise the crime. Cerkoney and his friends concealed their shipments of pot and THC extract in large hand-built crates. The criminals created false cargo bills and flew to the destination cities to receive the shipments and distribute the drug for sale, according to Jarrett.

Cerkoney plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of pot and conspiracy to launder money. A co-defendant in the conspiracy, Jeremiah Cruz, 40, set up the deals, where the product was to be shipped and how much money was to be made off the transactions, while Cerkoney handled the shipping logistics.

In 2014, Oregon became the third state in the nation to allow the possession and sale of weed for recreational rather than strictly medical use. According to a recent analysis of national highway interdiction data, marijuana originating in Oregon is frequently seized in other states, with a significant amount destined to the illegal market in the eastern half of the United States. The U.S. District Judge granted the sentence recommended by both the prosecutor and Cerkoney’s defense lawyer: four years and nine months at the federal prison camp in Sheridan, a minimum-security facility.

Co-defendant Cruz was sentenced in February to one year and nine months in prison and co-defendant Robert Dawe, 40, was sentenced in April to close to three years in prison. When the operation’s warehouse in Vancouver closed down, Dawe used his house to store marijuana for distribution, according to court records.