Truck driver’s drug smuggling conviction upheld

The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction of a truck driver found guilty of trying to smuggle 30 kilograms of cocaine into Canada.

Truck driver's drug smuggling conviction upheld

SURREY — The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction of a truck driver who was found guilty of trying to smuggle 30 kilograms of cocaine worth $1.5 million into Canada.

The cocaine, in one-kilogram packages, was found inside a hidden compartment in a refrigeration unit in the trailer when the driver, Navdeep Dhillon, was driving the truck across the Canada-United States border on April 17, 2009.

The court heard that Dhillon left Surrey on April 13, 2009 and according to his log, he was destined for Firebaugh, California.

“As of that date the load had not been brokered,” appeal court Justice Edward Chiasson noted when he rendered his decision Friday in Vancouver.

“An expert testified that it would be unusual for a truck to begin a trip without knowing there was a load to be picked up.”

On April 15 Dhillon was returning from California, where he’d picked up a load of almonds in Firebaugh. His log showed he had travelled much farther south to Pasadena that same day, but had no apparent reason to do so.

The main issue at trial was whether Dhillon knew the drugs were in the truck.

The trial judge rejected his claim he was a “blind courier” as being “very unlikely,” finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Dhillon not only had control of the cocaine, but also knew about it.

Dhillon’s lawyer argued on appeal that the trial judge erred by not accepting that someone else could have put the cocaine there by way of an exterior access point in the roof.

Chaisson noted, however, that the cocaine packages had been neatly stacked and this was “not consistent” with them being dropped through the roof. “This is sufficient to support the judge’s finding,” Chaisson decided. He dismissed Dhillon’s appeal, with Justices David Tysoe and Sunni Stromberg-Stein concurring.

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