LANGLEY trucker Major Singh Gausal has been acquitted of the charges of importing cocaine into Canada and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

The charges stemmed from an inspection Gausal’s tractor‑trailer unit on December 3, 2012, while he was crossing into Canada from the U.S. at the Huntingdon border crossing at Abbotsford and after a more thorough inspection thereafter at the Pacific Highway Crossing.

He was driving a refrigerated tractor‑trailer truck owned by his company, Gausal Trucking Ltd., and was alone in the vehicle.

Gausal told the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers that he had left Canada three days earlier, had travelled to California empty, and had made two pickups of produce.  He said that he had no personal goods to declare.

However, the officers started a thorough examination of the truck, finally drilling the front wall of the trailer. Upon extraction, a white powdery substance was found on the drill bit. It was confirmed to be cocaine.  The second bit used to drill a hole at another location in the front wall also produced cocaine powder.

“The front wall of the trailer was systematically dismantled … The fibreglass outer panel was pried back and a panel of styrofoam insulation was revealed.  This panel had a large rectangular piece that had been cut into it which was easily removed.  …  Removal of this panel revealed a secret compartment comprising five vertical sub-compartments below the reefer unit.  A total of 23 one‑kilogram bricks of cocaine were discovered in those compartments.  Each of the bricks was wrapped in red plastic,” according to the court ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gordon Weatherwill.

The court heard: “The total value at the kilogram level would be between $874,000 and $1,000,000.  The 2012 price for a gram of cocaine was $100.00. This equates to a $2,300,000 at the gram level, with a potential profit between $1.2 million and $1,426,000 if purchased at the kilo level and re-packaged and sold at the gram level.  This amount or value does not take into consideration any adulterants that might be added to the cocaine, which might increase the volume of the cocaine up to 30 percent.”

The judge noted: “The evidence is clear that 23 one‑kilogram packages of cocaine were in the secret compartment that had been constructed in the front wall of the accused’s trailer behind a large plastic bumper that covered most of the front wall.  It is equally clear, and I find, that the accused had control over the trailer at the time the cocaine was found.

“What remains to be shown before the accused can be found guilty of either offence is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had actual knowledge or was wilfully blind as to the presence of the cocaine.”

He pointed out: “The Crown’s case against the accused in terms of his knowledge or wilful blindness of the presence of the cocaine is entirely circumstantial.  There is no direct evidence pointing to the accused having knowledge of the presence of the cocaine or of the secret compartment or of its construction.  No tools were found in his possession or control that could have been used to construct or access the compartment.  There is no evidence regarding what the interior of the trailer looked like prior to the accused entering the United States.

“The secret compartment could have been in existence prior to him doing so. There is no evidence suggesting that the accused alone had an opportunity to access the secret compartment.  No fingerprints or any other evidence exists that ties the accused to either the cocaine or to the compartment.  Indeed, the one print that was found did not belong to the accused. There is no evidence of suspicious communications or behaviour on the part of the accused, including no intercepted cellphone communications or cellphone records. There is no evidence to suggest that the route taken by the accused while he was in the United States or the timing of his trip there was in any way unusual.”

The judge said that although the Crown’s submissions generally exuded reason and common sense, the difficulty was that they did not reflect the evidence in this case which showed that “the accused was anything but careful, vigilant, and cautious.”

He elaborated: “[The accused] received a ticket in the United States for having too much weight over his rear axles.  As a result, he redistributed the load by opening one of the pallets.  However, he took no steps to secure the contents or make the pallets look like they had not been disturbed.  As a result, the contents shifted and were strewn about the rear of the trailer.  This disarray is what initially piqued the interest of the BSOs [Border Services Officers] when they opened the rear doors of the trailer at Huntingdon.

“It is difficult to believe that anyone with knowledge of the significant quantity of cocaine in the trailer would not have taken steps to properly secure the load in order to avoid the very arousal of curiosity and interest that led to the discovery of the cocaine in this case.  If the rationale of the drug importers was to avoid the use of a so‑called blind courier because they might be careless, that rationale failed miserably in this case.

“It is, in my view, highly significant that all of the officers who interacted with the accused prior to the discovery of the cocaine testified that the accused was cooperative throughout and did not exhibit any sign of suspicious behaviour.  That evidence is inconsistent with the accused knowing that he was transporting a substantial quantity of cocaine across the border.”

The judge concluded: “While knowledge or wilful blindness on the part of the accused of the presence of cocaine in the trailer is a reasonable inference from the evidence or lack of evidence, and while it may well be that the accused probably had knowledge of the cocaine, probable guilt does not meet the criminal standard of proof.  I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that knowledge or wilful blindness on the part of the accused is the only rational inference to be drawn from the proven facts.”

 

Full ruling at:

http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/17/11/2017BCSC1194.htm