Pubdate: Wed, 07 Nov 2007
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Windsor Star
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Cocaine Smuggler Gets 10 Years

Likening him to an usher of death, a judge sentenced a truck driver 
to 10 years in prison Tuesday for trying to smuggle 50 kilograms of 
cocaine into Canada.

Justice Micheline Rawlins said she handed such a hefty sentence to 
Harpreet Singh, who had no criminal record, because he turned a blind 
eye to the devastating effects of cocaine use.

"Cocaine is death," said Rawlins. "It is death to those who consume 
it. It is death to their families."

"I can not understand how a fellow Canadian could condone bringing 
death to fellow Canadians, to watch them die a slow death.... You put 
that out of your mind, saying, 'I want to make money for me and mine.'"

Singh, 39, of Brampton, was arrested June 23 and charged with 
importation of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled 
substance for the purpose of trafficking.

He pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to smuggling the drugs, worth about $5 
million, across the Ambassador Bridge.

Officers with the Canada Border Services Agency found 50 
one-kilogram, individually wrapped bricks of cocaine stuffed in a 
closet behind the driver's seat of Singh's truck.

The father of two told police he met a man in a parking lot in 
California, where his truck route originated, and received a hockey 
bag filled with drugs.

"I think of your children, who did not ask to be brought into this 
world but deserve to have a father, a father they won't have," said 
Rawlins. "That's where the damage starts."

Defence lawyer Sam Vucinic, who asked for six to eight years, said 
Rawlins's sentence was reasonable.

"You heard her reasons and I think it's pretty hard to argue with her 
about that," he said. 'She's got plenty of experience in handling 
these kinds of cases.... There's no fooling around with her. It's a 
proper sentence."

Vucinic said his client was happy to get the sentencing over with so 
that he could get out of Windsor Jail and into a prison. He said 
being in the jail was "a pretty terrible experience" for Singh.

"He's heard stories down there, because he's never been in trouble 
before, about the conditions in federal institutions and provincial 
institutions," said Vucinic. "He decided he'd rather move on and get 
out of the county jail and get into an institution where there's some 
additional room and freedom in order to cope with incarceration."

Federal prosecutor Richard Pollock, who asked for a 12-year sentence, 
said he was also satisfied.

"It sends a strong message to truck drivers," he said. "Commercial 
truck drivers have an important place in our economy. They need to be 
able to cross the border and get their goods to market. This is 
essentially a breach of trust. So we need to send strong messages to 
drivers and people who might consider getting involved in this 
activity that when you come into Canada and you have drugs, you're 
going to be going to jail."
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