By Delon Shurtz on November 26, 2020.
Before Shaun Skidmore’s search dog even had a chance to sniff around the cab of a commercial truck that arrived at the Coutts port of entry last year, the officer with the Canada Border Services Agency had already found a bag of methamphetamine.
So he wasn’t surprised when his dog entered the cab and immediately confirmed the discovery.
“He went straight to the box I already knew had methamphetamine,” Skidmore said Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court, where he testified in the drug-smuggling trial of 41-year-old Asif Mir of Calgary.
Mir, who is charged with one count each of smuggling and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, was arrested July 28, 2019 after he arrived at the Coutts border crossing and was flagged by the first officer to greet him at the entry point.
Matthew Capo told court he ran a computer check on the accused’s licence plate and passport and both resulted in a “red box” or lookout. Capo referred Mir for a secondary inspection and directed him to back up to an inspection bay only a few metres away.
Skidmore was called to search the truck, and within moments of entering the cab noticed three round buckets containing tire chains. That was unusual, Skidmore testified, since tire chains are normally stored in jockey boxes on the outside of semi Êtrucks.
He also noticed a pile of dirty laundry in a closet, and a taped, cardboard box behind the clothes. When he opened the box he found six bags of methamphetamine.
Mir was arrested, and Skidmore continued searching the truck, where he found hidden in a large duffel bag under the bottom bunk of the sleeper 27 more packages of meth.
CBSA officer Sarah Hoar testified she also found it odd that the buckets of chains were inside the cab instead of the jockey boxes, and noted the passenger side jockey box had been removed and replaced with an air conditioner. She also pointed out the bins blocked the front of the lower bunk bed, and had to be moved before the bed could be raised.
She said Skidmore had already removed the duffel bag and packages of meth, which, she added, were covered in red spice.
The CBSA reported a few days after the bust, that the 50 kilograms of drugs seized is equal to about 500,000 doses and worth about $3 million. The red spice found on the drugs, is meant to throw sniffer dogs off the scent, a CBSA official said.
The trial, which is scheduled to run until Friday, may conclude earlier. The Crown expected to conclude its case Wednesday after calling all five of its witnesses, leaving Calgary lawyer Allan Fay to begin his case today.
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