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Kent man escapes before conviction in $2.8 mil drug case

An 18-year-old Kent man and a 21-year-old Renton man were convicted by a U.S. District Court jury Friday in Seattle of conspiracy to distribute a street drug called ecstasy, in an amount valued at more than $2.8 million.

But neither man was around to hear the verdict. Both had fled during the three-day trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones signed warrants for their arrest, according to a media release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.

The drug deals involved 285,000 pills valued at more than $2.8 million and occurred in May at the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila and at a San Jose, Calif., location.

Hardeep Singh, of Kent, failed to appear in court Wednesday after the first day of the trial. Kaushal Kainth, of Renton, failed to appear following the trial's lunch break on Thursday.

Judge Jones told jurors to ignore the fact that the defendants were no longer in the courtroom and told them not to speculate on their whereabouts.

Both men are Indian nationals with ties to Canada.

According to court records and trial testimony, Singh and Kainth agreed over eight days in May to pay a third man to deliver large amounts of ecstasy and benzylpiperazine (BZP) to co-conspirators at the Southcenter Mall and at San Jose.

Singh and Kainth did not know the man they offered to pay for the delivery was a confidential government informant working with law-enforcement officials. The informant recorded both men on audio and video.

Singh and Kainth gave the confidential informant some 285,000 pills worth more than $2.8 million. The pills were all seized by law enforcement.

Jurors deliberated 2 1/2 hours before returning the guilty verdict.

The defendants each face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. In addition, they face enhanced penalties for fleeing during the trial.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Ecstasy is an illegal amphetamine-based synthetic drug with euphoric and hallucinatory effects. Benzylpiperazine is an illicit drug that is a stimulant and which also has euphoric effects.

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