A pair of American fugitives wanted for running a marijuana ring south of the border but recently living in Coquitlam will have to wait at least a month to find out their fate.
On Wednesday, Matt Nicka, 38, and Gretchen Peterson, 33, appeared at an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) admissibility hearing and seven-day detention review in Vancouver. IRB member and decision maker Trent Cook granted the pair's lawyer an extra month to prepare their case for an admissibility hearing.
The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17. The IRB also decided Wednesday to detain Nicka and Petersen for another 30 days until the hearing.
Though lawyers for the couple didn't challenge the detention, Cook said he believed the pair was a flight risk.
"There is a lot at stake for you to not appear at an admissibility hearing," he told Nicka and Peterson.
The pair is wanted in the U.S. for conspiracy to distribute and manufacture 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
The couple, who were each led to and from the hearing in handcuffs by Canada Border Services Agency guards, sat quietly throughout the roughly 90-minute proceedings.
Prior to their arrest, the two were on the lam after allegedly fleeing from a suspected drub lab at a home in the 1200 block of Lansdowne Drive.
Police raided the home on June 29, but no arrests were made.
CBSA officials arrested Nicka and Petersen on Aug. 5 at a ferry terminal.
When they were arrested, they were reportedly carrying $9,000 in cash.
Last week, the CBSA confirmed it had launched an investigation back in November 2012 to determine whether the couple had fled to Canada, based on information it received from the US Marshals Service.
According to information disclosed at the pair's detention hearing on Aug. 7, Nicka fled the RCMP on June 26, at a coffee shop in Coquitlam, where an officer had identified him. An abandoned car in the coffee shop parking lot was later traced back to a home in Coquitlam where he lived with Petersen.
The CBSA said an investigation has confirmed there is no record of either Nicka or Peterson entering Canada at a designated port of entry.
Neighbours on Lansdowne told the Tri-Cities NOW the couple had lived at the home for about two years, and kept to themselves.
Several media reports from the U.S. said the couple could be travelling with Peterson's 13-year-old daughter.
One neighbour said they saw a teenaged girl when they first moved in a couple of years ago, but heard she was sent back to California.
If the IRB does eventually find the two to be inadmissible, CBSA indicated removal orders would be issued.
According to U.S court documents, prosecutors for the District of Maryland claim Nicka - who went by a number of aliases including Grump and Surfer Dude - along with Peterson and several other defendants, conspired to distribute 1,000 kilograms of pot. The documents suggest the defendants obtained and transported large quantities of marijuana grown in Canada and northern California to warehouses in Maryland, where the pot was divided and distributed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Kansas, Florida and elsewhere.
The documents also suggest the group transported the marijuana via aircraft, tractor-trailer, train and other vehicles. The documents also allege Nicka and Peterson used a home in Baltimore to distribute marijuana between 2007 and 2009.
Jeremy Deutsch, Now / Matt Nicka was at an immigration hearing Wednesday.;
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