May 18th, 2024

Sentencing hearing adjourned for couple found guilty of drug smuggling


By Delon Shurtz on November 2, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A sentencing hearing for a California couple caught trying to smuggle drugs through the Coutts border nearly four years ago, has been adjourned for a month.
The hearing for Gurminder and Kirandeep Toor was expected to be heard Friday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, but it was adjourned at the request of defence after a pre-sentence report ordered in May arrived too late to proceed as scheduled.
A pre-sentence report provides information about an accused’s background and personal circumstances to help the judge determine a fit sentence.
The hearing is scheduled to run Nov. 26.
Following a week-long trial in April, a jury found the Toors guilty of drug smuggling, but the matter was adjourned to arrange a date for the sentencing hearing and to allow time for the preparation of the pre-sentence report.
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 Toors, who were transporting produce from California to Airdrie, Alta., testified they were surprised when border officers found 84 bricks of cocaine hidden inside their commercial 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 more 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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