Pubdate: Fri, 07 Feb 2003
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner, The Province


After four months in a Spokane jail, truck driver Brian Frolek
returned home to Peachland yesterday in time to kiss his wife Donna
happy birthday.

"I'm very, very happy," said the trucker, who was acquitted of
drug-running charges at his second jury trial in Washington state. "I
have to get my truck back and decide what to do with my life."

Donna has a few suggestions.

"I'm getting my husband to sell it. I don't ever want him driving a
truck and trailer again. If that can happen to him, who else can it
happen to?"

Frolek was arrested in October when U.S. Customs officers at the
Oroville border crossing south of Osoyoos found 80 kilograms of
marijuana in his truck.

Frolek, who has no criminal record, swears he knew nothing about the
illicit cargo and surmises it was planted in his trailer while it was
being loaded in Merritt. The 49-year-old father of two said he had
gone to shower and eat breakfast while employees at a sawmill loaded
the trailer with wood chips.

Customs officers later found eight hockey bags of B.C. bud stashed at
the front end of the trailer. They seized the truck, arrested Frolek
and charged him with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Frank Cikutovich, Frolek's Spokane lawyer, took the case to trial in
December, but the jury could not reach a decision and a new trial was

This time, "we had three truckers on the jury and they only
deliberated for three hours -- not guilty," Cikutovich said.

Frolek is just one of dozens of Canadian truck drivers who have been
charged with smuggling large cargos of marijuana into the U.S. And
like Frolek, a number have been acquitted after arguing they were
unaware of the illicit cargo.

While Frolek is not keen to try another cross-border trip, he does not
want to give up his truck because of an unfounded allegation. "I
wasn't wrong. I wasn't guilty," he said. "I might get someone else to
drive it, though."

The Froleks spent yesterday revelling in their freedom. Today, they
must begin to tackle a pile of bills. Between legal fees and lost
income while the truck was impounded, the Okanagan family estimates
they are out about $80,000.

Donna was so happy yesterday, she did not dwell on the cost.

"I just want to look at him. I just want to touch him. When he goes to
the bathroom, I want to follow him and stand outside the door. I have
my husband back." 
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