BC trucker Navdeep Dhillon guilty of smuggling cocaine worth $1.5 million in hidden compartment

BC trucker Navdeep Singh Dhillon has been ruled guilty and has been convicted of importing 30 kilograms of cocaine into Canada in his tractor-trailer.

Dhillon was found guilty last month of importing a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision released Wednesday.

On April 17, 2009, Dhillon was returning from a trip to California and drove his tractor-trailer unit to the Pacific Highway border crossing, stopping at a primary inspection booth.

He was asked a number of questions by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer and referred for a secondary inspection.

The trailer, which contained a shipment of almonds, was examined by two officers and a detector dog. They found 30 brick-like packages behind two access panels in the trailer’s refrigeration compartment.

The packages each weighed about one kilogram and contained cocaine. The total value of the drugs was approximately $1.5 million.

Also found in the tractor unit were driver’s logs, receipts and a socket set, tools and hardware that matched the fasteners and other hardware used on the refrigeration access panels.

The refrigeration unit had been inspected previously by the CBSA in July 2006, November 2008 and February 2009. The secret compartment in the refrigeration unit had been noted during these inspections. Dhillon drove the tractor-trailer unit during the November 2008 and February 2009 inspections.

The day of Dhillon’s arrest, police used his cellphone to track down another person believed to have been involved in the smuggling operation.

Crown alleged that Dhillon drove over the border in an empty rig, picked up the man in the U.S., loaded the drugs, retrieved his load of almonds, dropped off the man in the U.S. and then returned to Canada. His passenger took a bus back and forth over the border and was waiting for Dhillon and the drugs in Surrey.

The defence emphasized that the Crown’s case was circumstantial and argued that Dhillon was a “blind courier” who knew nothing about the drugs in his cargo.

Justice Murray Blok did not accept that Dhillon had no idea what was hidden in the trailer.