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Punjabi Singer KS Makhan’s Associate Gets 6 Years For Drug Smuggling

Hardev Sahota, whom the Province newspaper reported is an associate of Makhan, was convicted of attempting to smuggle two kilograms of heroin hidden in the false bottom of a suitcase through Vancouver International Airport five years ago.

VANCOUVER – An Associate of well known Punjabi singer K. S. Makhan, who became a turbaned Sikh more than a year ago, was sentenced to 6 years in prison after being convicted of smuggling heroin through Vancouver airport.

Hardev Sahota, whom the Province newspaper reported is an associate of Makhan, was convicted of attempting to smuggle two kilograms of heroin hidden in the false bottom of a suitcase through Vancouver International Airport five years ago.

Sahota, 37, was convicted after a trial of importing heroin and possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was sentenced on Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

On April 22, 2010, Sahota was selected for secondary screening by a border security officer after he arrived at Vancouver International Airport on a flight from India.

An X-ray examination of his suitcase revealed an irregularity.

The suitcase had a false bottom in which border officers found two plastic bags containing two kilograms of heroin, valued at between $180,000 and $645,00, depending on whether it was sold by the kilogram or the gram, reported Province newspaper

Sahota denied any knowledge of the drugs, but five weeks after his arrest he suggested to police that the heroin had been placed in the suitcase by another man while Sahota was in India.

Sahota, a Surrey father of three, was charged with importing a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

At his trial earlier this year in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, there was no dispute that the drugs were in his possession. The only issue was whether he had knowledge of the narcotics.

Court heard that Sahota — who came to Canada in 2001 after being sponsored by his wife, met Makhan who has a home in Delta and lives there when he is in Canada, in 2006, reported the Province newspaper.

Sahota was told Makhan, whose real name he learned is Kuldeep Singh Takhar, was a promoter and residential land developer, B.C. Supreme Court heard at the trial.

Sahota, who was an unlicensed electrician, was hired by Makhan to do some work on houses Makhan was building and began spending more time with him, judge Wendy Baker noted at the time of the verdict.

“At some point, probably in 2008 I conclude, but possibly as late as 2009, Mr. Sahota became aware that Mr. Makhan was engaged in the importation of narcotics from India and the distribution of narcotics in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia,” said the judge.

Sahota testified that one time, Makhan passed him a box containing white powder and had him deliver the box to a Punjabi store and bakery. On other occasions, Makhan gave him a packet to keep at his home, noted the judge.

“Sometimes the packet contained large amounts of cash, as much as $40,000 or $50,000,” said the judge. “Mr. Makhan usually retrieved the packet from Mr. Sahota within a day or two.”

Sahota believed Makhan was bringing at least eight to 10 kilograms of heroin or cocaine into Canada per month and that his associates received a commission of $5,000 “per brick,” said the judge.

The accused was also aware that Makhan’s younger brother who lived in India was involved in the sophisticated scheme, the judge said.

According to reasons for judgment from the trial, Justice Baker — who was also the sentencing judge — didn’t believe Sahota’s assertions at trial that he knew nothing about the drugs in his suitcase and accepted that he was an active participant in the scheme.

Crown prosecutor Baljinder Girn had sought a six- to seven-year prison sentence for Sahota, citing the seriousness of the offences. She said Sahota was trying to make “a quick buck” importing an extremely harmful drug, and was more than simply a courier.

“Mr. Sahota has not shown any remorse or taken responsibility for his involvement in this offence,” Girn said.

Defence lawyer Rajdeep Basra submitted that a three-year sentence would be more appropriate.

Basra said that because Sahota is a landed immigrant — he was sponsored by his wife and arrived in Canada in 2001 — and not a Canadian citizen, it’s his understanding that Sahota will not be eligible for early release, and when he is granted statutory release after serving two-thirds of his sentence he will be deported to India.

Makhan has not been charged with any offences, according to a B.C. justice website.

An online report in March 2014 in the Hindustan Times, an Indian English-language newspaper, said Makhan had been acquitted by a Punjabi court in an eight-year-old heroin smuggling case.

In a case very much similar to Sahota’s, another alleged Makhan associate Chamkaur Singh Pandher was acquitted of smuggling four kilograms of heroin in a suitcase into Canada.

Pandher was found not guilty by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies after he claimed he was set up by Manji Makhan, a brother of K.S. Makhan.

In her ruling, judge Baker said she had carefully considered the Pandher ruling but that in her assessment, while there were similarities, the relevant factors in Sahota’s case were quite different.

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