Former British Columbia border guard Baljinder Kandola, who waved a $5 million cocaine shipment through the border, was sentenced to 15 years in jail on Friday while his co-accused, Shminder Johal, got 18 years for his part in the smuggling crime.
Both men were taken into custody after the sentence was delivered in New Westminster British Columbia. Supreme Court in front of their family and friends.
Kandola, a Cloverdale resident who worked as a border guard, and Johal, a Richmond resident who claimed to operate a car-parts importing business, were motivated by "profit and greed," the court heard.
Kandola and Johal were found guilty on June 29 on multiple drug- and bribery-related charges stemming from their arrest in 2007.
Kandola and Johal - along with a third man, Richmond resident Herman Riar - were arrested on Oct. 25, 2007, after police found 11 boxes with 208 bricks of cocaine worth more than $5 million inside a SUV that passed unchecked through the South Surrey truck border crossing into Canada.
Search warrants were executed on the homes and vehicles of all three men. Seized in one vehicle was 208 kilograms of cocaine, valued by police at $6 million wholesale on the drug market; a 9-millimetre and 45-calibre pistol; a 44-magnum revolver and 40 rounds of bullets. About $200,000 in cash was seized at Johal's home.
According to evidence heard at trial, Johal and Riar headed for the border in two vehicles, with Johal in the lead and Riar following, acting as the "transporter" with the drugs in his vehicle.
They passed through Kandola's check post , as per their alleged plan and the police believe the conspirators made several trips between May 2006 and the day of the arrests and Kandola reportedly pocketed at least $10,000 for turning a blind eye to the smuggling, including $4,000 worth of work to upgrade his car, a Mini Cooper.
The court also heard that intercepted telephone calls, surveillance in both Canada and the U.S., and text messages would show Johal recruited Kandola into the drug gang - offering him cash to let the cocaine across the border. Johal would receive text messages from Kandola letting him know the coast was clear.
CBSA records show Kandola never checked the computer database for either man on any of their trips through his checkpoint, court heard. A short time before the trio was arrested, Kandola sent a text to Johal saying "Aja," which means "come" in Punjabi.
Riar, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in jail.
A fourth man, Vancouver resident Charles Lai, was arrested in March 2008 in the U.S. as the alleged leader of the smuggling scheme. He was sentenced to 13 years by a U.S. District Court judge in 2009.
Kandola's lawyer James Sutherland has suggested a term of 15 years for his client.