April 19th, 2024

Sentencing date set for fall for couple found guilty in drug smuggling case

By Delon Shurtz on May 11, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald


A California couple caught at the Coutts border as they tried to smuggle nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine into Alberta, is set to have a sentencing hearing later this fall.

Gurminder and Kirandeep Toor were found guilty by a jury last month of drug smuggling, but the matter was adjourned to find a date for the sentencing hearing. That hearing, a judge was told Monday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, has been set for Oct. 29.

In addition to smuggling, Gurminder was found guilty of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, and although Kirandeep faced the same charge, she was found not guilty of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, but guilty of the lesser and included offence of simple drug possession.

The couple was transporting produce from California to Airdrie, Alta., and both testified they were surprised when border officers found 84 bricks of cocaine hidden inside the truck after they arrived at the Coutts 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 about $5 million if sold by the kilogram, and even more if broken down for sale on the street.

Border officers discovered the cocaine in the truck’s sleeper, where the drugs were hidden in and behind a microwave oven, in a drawer, under a blanket on the bottom bunk bed, and under a mattress on the upper bunk. Yet the accused said they had no idea there were drugs in the truck.

Kirandeep’s lawyer, Patrick Fagan of Calgary, argued the Crown failed to prove his client knew there was cocaine in the tractor-trailer her husband was driving, and she never should have been charged. And Gurminder’s Calgary lawyer, Greg Dunn, said it’s not unreasonable to believe the accused didn’t notice the drugs in the sleeper of the truck, because they were hidden from view and wouldn’t be seen by a casual glance around the sleeper.

Crown Prosecutor Kent Brown said, however, the one-kilogram bricks of cocaine were not well hidden, and they would have been concealed better if someone else put the drugs in the truck and didn’t want the Toors to find them.

Brown said 44 of the bricks of cocaine were hidden under the upper mattress, which caused the mattress to visibly sit higher on the bunk than normal. The drugs hidden on the lower bunk were found when an officer simply tossed aside the blanket covering them, and all the drugs were in a sleeper only a few feet long and wide.

“Think about hiding 84, one-kilo bricks of cocaine within those confines with the intention that the occupants will not discover them. I suggest that is preposterous and farfetched,” Brown said during his closing arguments April 26.

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