Sailboat captain jailed 13 years for smuggling cocaine into Nova Scotia

HALIFAX — A potential payoff of more than $500,000 motivated a Canadian sailboat captain to smuggle 250 kilograms of cocaine into Nova Scotia from a small Caribbean island, a judge said Friday as he sentenced Jacques John Grenier to 13 years in prison.

“It was just greed, Mr. Grenier, plain and simple,” provincial court Judge Gregory Lenehan told the 69-year-old accused.

An expert testified that the drugs — probably purchased for about $3 million from a Mexican drug cartel — had an estimated street value of $20 million.

Grenier, who moved to Nova Scotia in 2015 and was unemployed, had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges: possession for the purposes of trafficking cocaine and importing cocaine. A third charge, conspiracy to import cocaine, was withdrawn.

Lenehan said he took into account Grenier’s age, his guilty pleas and the fact that he has skin cancer.

But the judge said a double-digit sentence was needed to discourage others from using Nova Scotia’s craggy coastline as a ”soft target” for drug smuggling.

“You’re coming to your sunset years,” Lenehan told Grenier, a tall but thin man with a swarm of surgical scars above his left eye. “You don’t have 30 or 40 years left.”

Grenier, a resident of Hubbards, N.S., with no prior criminal record, was arrested Sept. 3 after officers with the Canada Border Services Agency boarded his 32-foot sailboat Quesera at a marina east of Halifax. Court heard Grenier had sailed the vessel solo from the Dutch side of Sint Maarten, an island east of the Virgin Islands.

The officers found bricks of cocaine hidden beneath a sealed bed frame in the forward sleeping quarters of the Canadian-registered vessel. The RCMP were called in, Grenier was arrested and more cocaine was found hidden throughout the boat.

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