A judge has acquitted a Langley trucker who was arrested after 23 kilograms of cocaine was found in a secret compartment in his vehicle at the Canada-U. S. border.
Major Singh Gausal, the owner of Gausal Trucking Ltd, was detained when he tried to bring his tractor-trailer unit through the Huntingdon border crossing near Abbotsford on Dec. 3, 2012.
At the time, he was returning to Canada after picking up produce in California. He stated that he had no goods to declare.
But Canada Border Services Agency officers, who were informed that the refrigerator unit at the front of the trailer was of interest, conducted a search of the vehicle.
A power drill used by an officer on the front wall of the trailer penetrated a barrier that he believed should not have been present and upon extraction, a white powdery substance was found on the drill bit that turned out to be cocaine.
The front wall of the trailer was dismantled, revealing a secret compartment comprising five vertical sub-compartments below the reefer unit.
Inside the compartments were 23 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine, each brick wrapped in red plastic. Police determined the wholesale value of the drugs to be close to $1 million and the street value more than $2 million.
Gausal was arrested and charged with one count of importing a controlled substance and one count of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
In his ruling in the case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gordon Weatherill said that it was clear that the accused had control over the trailer at the time the cocaine was found.
He said the main issue was whether Gausal had actual knowledge or was wilfully blind as to the presence of the drugs in his truck, noting that the case was entirely circumstantial.
The Crown argued that the evidence did not give rise to any reasonable inference other than that Gausal was guilty as charged.
The prosecutor noted that Gausal was alone in the truck that he owned through his company and that modifications to the interior of the vehicle were substantial and would have required a significant amount of time to install.
In addition, the Crown pointed to the value of the drugs and said it defied common sense and reason that such a large and valuable cargo would be entrusted to anyone who did not know about it and that the drug importer would have ensured that the courier knew about the drugs and took care.
But the judge said that although the Crown’s arguments “generally exude reason and common sense,” the problem was that the evidence showed that the accused was anything but careful.
– Keith Fraser is a reporter with the Vancouver Sun. See more Sun stories HERE.