Feds torpedo alleged submarine smuggler in Detroit River bust

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Canadian man who allegedly admitted using a submarine to smuggle drugs and money into the U.S. was charged Friday after federal agents found him floating unconscious in the Detroit River while hauling 265 pounds of marijuana, according to authorities.

The case against Glen Richard Mousseau, 49, of Windsor, Ontario, was filed in federal court and describes an unusual twist on the rich bootlegging history of smuggling drugs, people and liquor across the international border between Detroit and Canada.

Vehicles are seen traveling from the American side of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit to the Canadian side in Windsor, Ontario, Thursday, March 19, 2020.

"Smugglers try out all means when trying to smuggle things into the United States," said Kris Grogan, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, on Friday.

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Mousseau made an initial appearance Friday in federal court to face drug possession, smuggling and immigration charges that could send him to prison for more than 10 years. On Tuesday, he agreed to be held without bond pending trial as new details emerged about the underwater gadget prosecutors say Mousseau used to smuggle drugs and money.

Colleen Fitzharris, his court-appointed lawyer, could not be reached for comment immediately Friday.

The case dates to  May 10 when Mousseau was stopped while driving a U-Haul truck on St. Clair Highway in China Township, 49 miles northeast of Detroit.

During the traffic stop, St. Clair County Sheriff's deputies found a large plastic bag containing $97,060 in U.S. currency. Mousseau said he didn't know anything about the package, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court on Friday.

Homeland Security agents arrived and interviewed Mousseau, who said he had illegally entered the U.S., according to the complaint.

"During that interview, Mousseau stated that he directs a smuggling organization that moves money and narcotics between Canada and the United States," Homeland Security Special Agent Christopher Leonard wrote in an affidavit filed in court.

Mousseau told investigators his organization had successfully smuggled marijuana, cocaine or money approximately seven times, according to the affidavit.

When deputies stopped Mousseau, he was scouting for a spot to smuggle the $97,060 into Canada, the government alleged.

"Mousseau stated that he provides GPS coordinates to an individual in Canada, who traverses the river using a submersible watercraft," the agent wrote. "Mousseau would then send the contraband or currency and his associate back across the river."

Investigators searched his cell phones and found messages with several people regarding GPS coordinates along the Detroit River shoreline that matched known smuggling locations, according to the affidavit.

Mousseau admitted he owned a submarine seized by U.S. Border Patrol agents on April 23 from the Zug Island shoreline, according to the affidavit.

Homeland Security and Border Patrol spokesmen could not provide additional details about the submarine.

Despite seizing the sub, Mousseau kept smuggling, according to the government.

Investigators released Mousseau last month, and he agreed to stay at the Baymont by Wyndham Flat Rock hotel during the investigation, according to the affidavit.

On May 21, he offered to provide information about a multiple kilogram methamphetamine shipment arriving in Metro Detroit the next day, investigators said.

Then he disappeared.

On May 22, security cameras showed him walking from the hotel. He left his belongings behind, telling the hotel clerk he was leaving to attend an emergency funeral, according to the affidavit.

Investigators searched his suitcase. Inside, investigators found five cell phones, a laptop computer and a "dry suit" used by scuba divers in cold water conditions.

The suitcase also contained a Canadian passport, Ontario temporary driver's license and birth certificate, all of which were reported stolen in January 2019, according to the agent. The owner of the documents told investigators the paperwork was stolen from his house.

The investigation intensified Friday.

Federal agents found the Canadian man floating and unconscious east of Celeron Island on Friday morning.

At approximately 2:35 a.m., federal agents were on patrol east of Celeron Island, south of Grosse Ile. They spotted a vessel crossing the international boundary and traveling into the United States.

The agents tried to stop the boat and spotted two large bundles being thrown into the river.

"While approaching the floating bundles, agents observed a man, later identified as Mousseau, unconscious in the water," Leonard wrote.

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The agents pulled Mousseau from the river and noticed a tow strap attached to his body. Investigators examined the tow strap and discovered it was connected to the large bundles floating in the river.

"Agents found that the bundles contained approximately 265 pounds of suspected marijuana," Leonard wrote in the affidavit.

Grogan could not provide details on Mousseau's condition Friday. Court records indicate he was deported from the United States in 1995, according to the affidavit.


Twitter: @robertsnellnews