Toronto trucker denies knowing of drug cargo
A Toronto-area trucker testified on Thursday that he may be a garbage picker, but he is not a drug smuggler. Baldev Singh, 44, crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Canada on March 19, 2009, with 69 kilograms of cocaine hidden in crates of oranges. In the cab of his truck where he slept were two suitcases that, when scanned, tested positive for cocaine residue.Updated: Feb 24, 2014 16:55 IST
A Toronto-area trucker testified on Thursday that he may be a garbage picker, but he is not a drug smuggler. Baldev Singh, 44, crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Canada on March 19, 2009, with 69 kilograms of cocaine hidden in crates of oranges. In the cab of his truck where he slept were two suitcases that, when scanned, tested positive for cocaine residue.
Singh testified, he has no idea where the drugs came from. He said he didn’t watch the oranges being loaded at a facility in southern California. Instead, he stayed in the cab of his truck, eating a meal, then taking a nap.
When he went to throw out his trash, he noticed three suitcases kept beside a garbage bin.
“I liked them … I thought they could be useful,” he testified through a Punjabi interpreter.
Singh said he took the suitcases to the cab of his truck and put his clothing into them. He then got into the driver’s seat and headed back to Canada.
Singh started his journey in Mississauga, picking up a tractor-trailer from a parking lot where his boss, Prem Thandi, rented space.
Documents show Singh crossed the Ambassador Bridge into the United States on March 9, 2009 about 1 am.
When he first crossed the bridge, the signs on the side of his truck read Omni. On the way back, the signs read East West Trucking Inc.
Singh testified the new signs were waiting for him at a truck stop in Oklahoma City. The company changed names, he said.
When he arrived in California, he called his boss to get information about the load he was picking up, he said. Thandi told him the load had been cancelled, but to keep driving while he searched for a replacement.
Singh testified he drove to Fontana, California, where he was told by Thandi to stay until the next morning.
The next day, on Friday, yielded no replacement load, so he ended up staying in the city over the weekend, he testified.
The following Monday, he said, he was dispatched to Woodlake, California, about five hours away, to pick up a load of oranges.
Singh detailed the route he took to and from California, the dates and times he arrived in each city and how long he spent at each stop. None of it jibed with what he wrote in his driving log.
Singh testified he falsified his driving log because he routinely violated laws concerning rest breaks.
He said while he normally only sleeps five or six hours at a stretch, I put 10 hours sleep in log.
Federal drug prosecutor Richard Pollock picked at Singh’s testimony.
Fontana, California, has no farms within 75 miles of its borders, Pollock noted, so why would Singh go there in the hope of finding a load of produce to pick up? "It was to pick up cocaine," Pollock said.
Singh responded: “No.”
First Published: Feb 24, 2014 16:40 IST