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Indo-Canadian Trucker Found Guilty Of Attempting To Smuggling Cocaine Into Canada

TORONTO – A Toronto-area Indo-Canadian trucker with financial problems and who claimed to have randomly picked cocaine-contaminated suitcases out of the garbage has been convicted of attempting to smuggle 69 kilograms of cocaine into Canada in 2009.

Baldev Singh, 44, of Maple, north of Toronto, was found guilty Monday of importing a controlled substance into Canada and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking by Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance in connection with the $9.8-million seizure at the Ambassador Bridge on March 19, 2009, reported the Windsor Star newspaper.

Federal drug prosecutor Richard Pollock was pleased with Pomerance’s decision and touted the work of the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP for the conviction.

“The result reflects excellent post-seizure work on the part of both the CBSA and the RCMP,” said Pollock, adding he would be be seeking a “lengthy” jail term for Singh, who was released after the decision pending his sentencing on Dec. 5.

Singh attempted to cross into Canada in a tractor-trailer on the morning of March 19, 2009 carrying 54 bins of oranges from Woodlake, Calif., to the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto.

CBSA officers conducting a sniffer dog training exercise discovered the 69 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside two containers holding the oranges near the front of the trailer.

Inside the cab of the tractor, officers also found three suitcases, one containing Singh’s clothing, that tested positive for cocaine residue.

Investigators also discovered imprints of small wheels across the top of the containers containing the oranges that matched the wheels of one of the suitcases seized in the cab.

There was also evidence of considerable weight having been on the tops of the containers, with “marks, dents and tears observed on some of the lids (that) would suggest that a degree of pressure had been applied to them,” Pomerance told court in rendering her verdict. There was sufficient room at the top of the trailer for a human to crawl across.

“This is critical evidence,” Pomerance said.

Court also heard that Singh had admitted to having financial problems during testimony at trial.

Singh’s tax return for 2007 reported an income of $2,959 and he did not file an income tax return for 2008 or 2009.

Court heard that Singh claimed to own property in India, although his income tax return did not report any income from a foreign property.

“When pressed further, the accused testified, in extremely vague terms, that he could borrow money from friends of family members,” Pomerance said during her decision.

“However, his evidence on this point was distinctly non-specific.”

Court also heard that at the time of his arrest, Singh owed $50,000 on a line of credit and had leased a new truck on March 1, 2009 with monthly payments of $2,815.

Singh was to be paid $7,000 for picking up the load of oranges in California.

Singh repeatedly denied having placed the cocaine in the trailer.

The seizure was among the largest of cocaine locally in recent years. Last November, U.S. customs officers discovered 144 pounds (62.5 kilograms) during an outbound inspection at the Ambassador Bridge.

In December 2012, a Brampton trucker was found not guilty of importing almost 70 kilograms of cocaine into Canada at the Ambassador Bridge in April 2009.

The largest local seizure in history was in February 2007 when 171 kilograms of cocaine worth $21.3 million was found hidden inside a shipment of various vegetables at the Ambassador Bridge.

In September 2010 Lacchman Singh Chahal was sentenced to 16 years in jail. His accomplice, Sandeep Hans, was levied the same sentence in absentia and remains on the lam.

Courtesy Windsor Star

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