June 22nd, 2024

Trucking company owner denies knowledge of drug smuggling

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 19, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The owner of a Calgary transport company whose employee was caught with a load of drugs two years ago at the Coutts border, had nothing to do with the smuggling attempt, he testified this week in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench.

Gurpreet Ghuman told court he was not involved in the importation of 228 kilograms of methamphetamine in one of his tractor trailers on Dec. 25, 2020.

Ghuman, who was not scheduled to testify during the trial of Amarpreet Singh Sandhu, was subpoenaed to attend court after Sandhu implicated him during his own testimony last week. Sandhu testified his boss specifically instructed him not to stop at the town of Primm, Nev. on his way back to Canada, but to stop at the City of Mesquite on the Nevada-Arizona border instead. Sandhu also claimed his boss told him exactly where to stay in Mesquite.

Ghuman admitted he communicated with Sandhu while he was in California, but denied telling his employee where to stop or stay over.

Defence maintains the drugs must have been put in the trailer at some point during Sandhu’s drive back to Canada, without the accused’s knowledge. And during cross examination by Calgary lawyer Allan Fay, court was told 113 kilos of cocaine had been found in another of Ghuman’s trucks in January of 2021 in the U.S.

Sandhu, who is charged with drug importation and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, testified he had no idea how the drugs got on his truck or where they came from, and said he was confused when border officers checked inside his trailer load of bananas and found nine boxes sitting in plain view just inside the doors. He told the officers the boxes weren’t there when he picked up the produce a few days earlier from a supplier in California.

“When I opened the door I just saw there were some boxes on the floor, and I was quite confused at how come these boxes are here,” Sandhu testified through a Punjabi interpreter.

Sandhu said he was surprised to see the doors secured with a bolt instead of a plastic seal that was placed on them after the bananas had been loaded in California.

Sandhu had described his trip from Calgary to Los Angeles and back again, which included numerous stops at truck stops to eat, shower and sleep. At times he locked the cab of the truck when he was away from it, and other times he left it unlocked and the engine running, particularly when it was cold.

The Crown and defence provided the judge with their closing arguments Wednesday, and the matter has been adjourned to Friday for the judge’s decision.

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