A Langley, B.C., man “probably” knew there was nearly 51 pounds of cocaine, worth more than $2 million in U.S. currency, inside a hidden compartment in his semitrailer when he tried to enter Canada at a Sumas border crossing.
But that alone was not enough to convict him, a Canadian court has ruled.
Major Singh Gausal, who owns Gausal Trucking Ltd., was acquitted of the charges — importing a controlled substance and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking — stemming from his arrest in December 2012. The ruling was handed down in June, but details were released in the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s website Monday.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gordon Weatherwill said in the ruling that while authorities found cocaine in a secret compartment and Gausal “had control over the trailer at the time the cocaine was found,” there was no evidence he knew he was hauling individual bricks of cocaine.
“There is no direct evidence pointing to the accused having knowledge of the presence of the cocaine or of the secret compartment or of its construction,” Weatherwill wrote. “No tools were found in his possession or control that could have been used to construct or access the compartment. There is no evidence regarding what the interior of the trailer looked like prior to the accused entering the United States.”
According to Canadian court papers, Gausal’s fingerprints were not found in either the secret compartment or the cocaine — a print that was found didn’t match Gausal’s — and there were no suspicious communication on his cellphone or any other means when he went to the U.S. and prior to his reentry into Canada.
According to court documents, Gausal was crossing into Canada from Sumas Dec. 3, 2012, when the cocaine was discovered following an initial search at the Huntingdon, B.C., crossing and then a more thorough search at the Pacific Highway crossing. He was driving a refrigerated semitrailer and told Canada Border Services Agency officers he had gone to California empty and made two pick-ups of produce.
He was alone in the vehicle.
If the rationale of the drug importers was to avoid the use of a so-called blind courier because they might be careless, that rationale failed miserably in this case.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gordon Weatherwill
Prior to the search, Gausal was ticketed in the U.S. for having too much weight over his rear axles. He redistributed the load, but didn’t secure the contents — which then shifted and were strewn to the rear of the trailer. The disarray of his load was what triggered the thorough search on the Canadian side. It was unclear whether that citation was issued in Whatcom County.
“It is difficult to believe that anyone with knowledge of the significant quantity of cocaine in the trailer would not have taken steps to properly secure the load in order to avoid the very arousal of curiosity and interest that led to the discovery of the cocaine in this case,” the court ruling said. “If the rationale of the drug importers was to avoid the use of a so-called blind courier because they might be careless, that rationale failed miserably in this case.”
Gausal’s attorneys suggested that perhaps employees of the businesses in California where Gausal picked up the produce could have hidden the cocaine in the truck. The employees were aware of the truck’s schedule and how long it would take to load it.
Another point the judge raised was the testimony of the border officers, who described Gausal as very cooperative during the search and said he did not show any sign of suspicious behavior.
Simpy put, Gausal “probably” knew of the cocaine, but “probable guilt does not meet the criminal standard of proof,” the court ruled.