January 17th, 2021

Verdict in drug-smuggling case expected on Feb. 4


By Delon Shurtz on December 15, 2020.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 41-year-old Calgary truck driver accused of trying to smuggle drugs into Alberta from the U.S. in 2019 will learn early in the new year whether a judge believed him when he said he has no idea how 50 kilograms of methamphetamine ended up in his vehicle.
Asif Mir said during his trial last month in Lethbridge provincial court he was surprised when Coutts border officers arrested him after they found 33 packages of meth hidden in the sleeper of his semi truck when he arrived at the port of entry July 28, 2019.
“I don’t know where it comes from,” he told the arresting officer. “I’m shocked.”
The trial concluded Nov. 26, but the matter was adjourned to Monday to set a date for Judge Gregory Maxwell to provide his decision. That decision is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2021.
Mir, who is charged with one count each of smuggling and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, testified he didn’t know there were drugs in his truck. He said he never agreed with anyone to smuggle drugs, but he couldn’t explain why they were found in a box in a closet, and in a large duffel bag under the bed.
Mir had picked up a load of meat from Brooks, which he delivered to a sausage company in California. He drove south through Montana, Idaho, Utah and Nevada, before turning west to Burbank, Calif. He then picked up another load for the return trip to Canada, but had mechanical trouble and stopped overnight for repairs. In the meantime, another semi truck picked up his loaded trailer and replaced it with an empty one.
When he arrived at the Coutts border, he was directed to a warehouse for a secondary inspection. During a search of his cab, officers found six bags of meth in a cardboard box hidden under clothes in a closet, and 27 bags of meth in a duffel bag hidden under the bottom bunk bed
During closing arguments, Crown Prosecutor Kent Brown said the only rational conclusion the court can draw is that Mir knew the drugs were in the truck. Brown reminded the judge that Mir lied to the first officer he met at the border when he was asked if he had any repairs done on his truck. Mir admitted he lied and said he didn’t want to pay GST on the repair work or risk having his truck taken off the road until he completed thousands of dollars in repairs.
Calgary lawyer Allan Fay said the only real issue is whether Mir knew the drugs were in the truck. He said the Crown’s case is based on circumstantial evidence, and it is not unreasonable to believe someone else could have hidden the drugs in the truck, with the intention to have them removed after it arrived in Calgary.
The CBSA reported in a news release a few days after the bust, that the 50 kg of drugs seized is equal to about 500,000 doses worth about $3 million. Brown noted during the trial that the drugs as packaged when found by border officials, were worth about $1.5 million. The packages were also covered in red powder, possibly a spice, meant to throw sniffer dogs off the scent.

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