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Two Indo-Canadian Truckers From BC Acquitted In Winnipeg’s Largest Drug Bust

Gurdarshan Singh Hansra, 51, and Tirath Bal, 44,were on trial charged with possession of cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking. But both BC-based men were acquitted last Friday.

WINNIPEG ─ Two Indo-Canadian men walked out of court free men Friday after a judge ruled he had a reasonable doubt whether they knew the tractor trailer they were driving contained 51 kilograms of cocaine, reported QMI Agency.

Gurdarshan Singh Hansra, 51, and Tirath Bal, 44,were on trial charged with possession of cocaine and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The two B.C. men were arrested in July 2010 following a traffic stop on the Trans-Canada Highway.

“Suspicion, even a reasonable suspicion, does not meet the standard of proof required,” Justice Robert Dewar said Friday in acquitting the men of the largest ever powder cocaine seizure in Winnipeg Police Service history.

Defence lawyers Sheldon Pinx and Ryan Rolston argued the men were “blind couriers” unwittingly carrying the illegal cargo for pickup in Brampton, Ont.

Court heard the cocaine was packed in boxes hidden among other boxes in the trailer containing hams. Court heard evidence the men remained in the cab of the truck when the trailer was loaded in Vancouver and the trailer was sealed before they left the city.

Any number of people on the loading dock could have tampered with the cargo, Dewar said.

“I cannot say someone in this case did, but I can say there was opportunity for this to occur,” he said.

Prosecutor Janna Hyman argued no criminal organization would entrust millions of dollars worth of cocaine to blind couriers.

Dewar said no two criminal organizations operate the same way, adding the risk to criminal higher-ups is significantly reduced if the couriers don’t know what they are carrying.

When stopped by police, Hansra and Bal agreed to the trailer being searched, knowing they were within their rights to refuse, Dewar said.

“People who are guilty will normally try to avoid being searched,” Dewar said. “Co-operation given in this case by someone with knowledge is less likely than someone without knowledge.”

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