Sycamore drug smuggler who fled country given 16-year prison sentence

Shortly after a Sycamore man pleaded guilty to his involvement in a cross-country pot smuggling operation, the 51-year-old convicted felon boarded a plane to Shanghai, China, and never returned, prosecutors said.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt on Thursday sentenced Andrzej Hryniewicki to 16 years in prison for a possessing more than 300 pounds of marijuana tied a 2014 drug bust at Wonder Lake’s Galt Airport.

The DeKalb County resident isn’t likely to serve his prison term anytime soon, however. Exactly three weeks after he entered a guilty plea in McHenry County court, Hryniewicki bought a round-trip ticket to China, prosecutors said. As of Thursday, he never arrived in San Francisco as expected.

On March 19, Hryniewicki accepted a plea deal from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. That same day, prosecutors asked to revoke Hryniewicki’s bond and send him back to the McHenry County Jail until his May 10 sentencing hearing.

Wilbrandt denied the motion, however, and when the hearing date arrived Hryniewicki was nowhere to be found.

His defense attorney, Matthew Amarin, said at the time that he hadn’t been in contact with Hryniewicki and didn’t know where he was.

Wilbrandt issued a warrant for Hryniewicki’s arrest, and the sentencing was continued to Thursday.

In the meantime, prosecutors filed a request to sentence Hryniewicki even if he didn’t show up to court.

Having already continued the sentencing once, prosecutors proceeded with the hearing Thursday morning and sentenced Hryniewicki to 16 years in prison.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report attached to prosecutors’ request claimed that Hryniewicki boarded United Airlines flight number 835 from Chicago on April 8, but did not get on his May 7 return flight to the U.S. There is no record of him returning to the country at all since his April 8 departure.

Hryniewicki, 51, of the 27000 block of Hunters Lane, Sycamore, was charged in November 2014 with multiple drug felonies, including marijuana trafficking, after police said he transported about $1.12 million worth of marijuana in a private airplane that came from California and landed at Galt Airport.

The pilot whom Hryniewicki recruited to make trips between California and Wonder Lake avoided prosecution by working with police, and helping them stake out the airplane hangar where Hryniewicki ultimately was arrested.

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