B.C. Supreme Court Justice Wendy Baker has convicted Hardev Sihota of Surrey, an associate of Punjabi singer K.S. Makhan (aka Kuldeep Singh Takhar) of attempting to smuggle heroin through Vancouver airport when he arrived on a flight from India on April 22, 2010.
His suitcase had a false bottom containing two plastic bags with two kilograms worth of heroin with a street value of $645,000.
The only issue was whether Sihota was aware of the narcotics.
The judge said in her ruling: “The only reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence that I do accept is that Mr. Sihota was an active participant in a scheme to bring narcotics from India to Canada and that he was aware at all times that he was bringing narcotics to Canada and that those narcotics were being distributed here.”
The ruling noted that Makhan hired Sihota, an unlicensed electrician, for work on houses he was building and at some stage, Sihota learned that Makhan was involved in importing narcotics from India and in their distribution in the Lower Mainland here. Sihota also said there was a report in India news that Makhan was involved in drugs.
The judge wrote that Sihota learned that Makhan was using his relatives and some elderly people from India to bring drugs here. Makhan had picked up passengers and their luggage on many occasions at Makhan’s instructions.
The ruling noted that Sihota testified that sometimes packets that Makhan gave him to keep for a day or two at his home contained as much as $40,000 or $50,000 in cash. Sihota bought a scale for Makhan that was used to weigh white powder.
The judge said that Sihota was aware that Makhan’s younger brother in India was involved in the drug importation scheme.
When Sihota was arrested he absolutely denied any knowledge of the drugs, but five weeks later he suggested that they had been placed there by Makhan’s younger brother.
But the judge rejected Sihota’s claims because she found numerous inconsistencies in his evidence.
In a similar case last year, Chamkaur Singh Pandher had been acquitted of smuggling four kilograms of heroin in a suitcase into Canada after he claimed he was set up by a brother of K.S. Makhan.
Baker noted that while there were similarities in the two cases, the relevant in Sihota’s case were quite different
In her ruling, Baker said she had carefully considered the Pandher ruling but that in her assessment, while there were similarities, the relevant factors in Sihota’s case were quite different. There was no evidence of previous involvement of Pandher with Makhan and his drug scheme.
Sihota will be sentenced at a later date.
For Pandher’s case, go to: