UPDATE – Crown seeks lengthy prison sentence for Kelowna cocaine smuggler

Border Agent Points to Secret Compartment.

UPDATE – Many of her family and friends in the court room burst into tears but Caitlin Gladdish showed little emotion as she was sentenced to six years and nine months imprisonment.

The judge said a longer term would have been appropriate but cited as mitigating factors Gladdish’s guilty plea, no previous criminal record, genuine remorse, relatively young age and excellent prospects for rehabilitation.

In handing down sentence, BC Provincial Court judge James Threlfall said Gladdish knew her vehicle had been modified with the secret compartment and had previously crossed the American border in the car five times.

“This suggests to me this was more than a one-off or spur of the moment decision. The motivation was money.”

Gladdish’s lawyer told the court the pre-planning for the smuggling attempt was done by someone who recruited her to be a courier, saying her instructions were to park the car at a Spokane hotel and go shopping before retrieving the vehicle to cross the border five minutes before closing time.

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KELOWNA – Sentencing submissions are underway for a Kelowna woman who tried to smuggle a large amount of cocaine into Canada from the United States.

Caitlin Christine Gladdish, 27, was arrested at the Waneta border crossing south of Trail in July 2014.

The Volkswagen Jetta she was driving had 35 kilograms of cocaine stashed in a compartment below a false bottom built into the vehicle’s trunk.

The prosecutor noted electric motors were installed to raise the back seat about five inches to access the hidden compartment which she says cost about $10,000 to install and required a significant amount of work, time and knowledge.

The Crown contends the drugs, if sold by the kilogram, would fetch at least $1.75 million.

In announcing the bust, RCMP said Gladdish, who was alone in the car, was suspected of being involved with an organized crime group.

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“The sheer size of the drug seizure indicates the accused was not working independently. The level of sophistication in the intent to conceal this amount of cocaine also reinforces the accused was not working independently,” said RCMP Inspector Brian Gateley/

Gladdish pleaded guilty to importing a controlled substance.

The prosecutor is asking for a prison sentence between seven and eight years.