April 19th, 2024

Driver testifies he was unaware of drugs found in truck at border


By Delon Shurtz on April 24, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Truck driver Gurminder Singh Toor didn’t notice during a trip from California to Alberta that a mattress in the sleeper was sitting higher than normal because there were drugs hidden under it, he testified Friday during his drug smuggling trial in Lethbridge.
Toor, who along with his wife Kirandeep Kaur Toor is charged with unlawful importation and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, denied knowing anything about the cocaine found in his truck, and testified he doesn’t know how it or even a couple of duffel bags sitting on the mattress ended up in the vehicle.
The California couple has been on trial this week in Court of Queen’s Bench, and both testified they were surprised when border officers told them they found 84 bricks of cocaine hidden inside the truck after the accused arrived at the border Dec. 2, 2017.
The drugs, considered at the time to be the largest cocaine seizure recorded by the Canada Border Services Agency in Alberta’s history, were worth between $6.5 million and $8 million on the street depending on how they’re broken down for sale, an RCMP officer reported shortly after the bust.
Border officers discovered the cocaine hidden in and behind a microwave oven, in a drawer in the sleeper, at the foot of the bottom bunk bed, and under a mattress on the other bunk. Yet the accused said they had no idea there were drugs in the truck, and Gurminder said he didn’t notice on the final leg of the trip between Great Falls and Alberta the raised mattress concealing the drugs.
Gurminder testified he picked up several loads from various locations in California before driving toward his destination in Airdrie, Alta. They made several stops along the way, and spent about 90 minutes in Great Falls getting fuel, eating and showering. Meanwhile, the unlocked truck sat parked some distance away, and remained running with the keys inside, because of the cold. Gurminder said he couldn’t see the vehicle from inside the truck stop, and he was away from the truck for about 75 minutes.
Friday’s cross-examination of Gurminder lasted most of the day – longer than expected – because the accused repeatedly sought the help of an interpreter, even to understand brief, simple questions from the Crown. At other times, however, he didn’t need any help understanding and responding, even to longer and more complicated questions.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday for closing arguments by the Crown and defence. Madam Justice Johnna Kubik will then provide the jury with final instructions before sequestering them to determine a verdict.
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