By Delon Shurtz on February 27, 2021.
A Calgary trucker found guilty earlier this month of smuggling a record amount of methamphetamine into Alberta in 2019 has been sentenced to 11 years in a federal penitentiary.
Judge Gregory Maxwell handed down his decision Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, and said even though Asif Mir was only a courier in the unsophisticated drug smuggling operation, his actions contribute to the disintegration of individuals and society.
“Addiction to these drugs, simply put, destroys people, it destroys families, it destroys careers, and it jeopardizes a peaceful society,” Maxwell said.
Mir, who sat passively throughout Friday’s hearing, appeared unshaken as the judge announced the length of the prison term, and simply waived goodbye to two men in the courtroom gallery as he left to begin his sentence.
Calgary lawyer Allan Fay agreed the offences of drug importation and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking warrant a lengthy prison sentence, but not for the 12 to 15 years recommended by the Crown.
“He must go to jail and he must go to jail for a significant amount of time,” Fay conceded.
However, Fay suggested a sentence of eight years, and said his client’s lack of criminal record and his previous good character deserve credit toward a lesser sentence. Fay said Mir, 42, simply showed a lapse of judgment, for which he must atone, and asked the judge to show compassion, if not for Mir, then for his family.
Fay said Mir’s wife and two young daughters, who moved to Toronto to live with his sister after he was found guilty, will also suffer, as will his mother in Pakistan to whom he sent some of his earnings.
“He took his chances and now he has to pay the price for that.”
Crown Prosecutor Kent Brown urged the judge to consider the lengthier sentence, and reminded Maxwell that the drug bust, from which border officers seized 50 kg of methamphetamine, was, at the time, the largest bust at the Coutts border crossing. The drugs, with a street value of about $5 million, could provide a user, at one gram of meth a day, a supply that would last 138 years.
“This is truly a massive importation,” Kent said.
Mir was referred to a secondary examination of his tractor trailer when he arrived at the Coutts border July 28, 2019. Officers found 33 bags of meth inside the cab of the truck, of which Mir denied any knowledge.
Defence told court during trial in November that an unknown person, and without Mir’s knowledge, must have hidden the drugs in the cab of Mir’s tractor trailer unit while he was in the U.S. However, Maxwell said during his verdict Feb. 4, the only opportunity for that to happen was while the truck was unexpectedly being repaired in California, yet no one knew the truck was going to break down or where it would be repaired.
“I find that individuals unknown to the accused, unfamiliar with his habits or his intended return route, or return dates, would place a very large amount of drugs, readily discoverable, in the accused cab in hopes of a future recovery,” Maxwell said.
Mir testified at his trial that he didn’t know there were drugs in his truck, and 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 in the sleeper.
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 the cardboard box hidden in the closet, and 27 bags of meth in the duffel bag hidden under the bed.
In addition to his sentence, Mir is prohibited from possessing certain weapons for 10 years, and others for life. He must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank.
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