VANCOUVER - A former Canadian border guard has been convicted for his part in a conspiracy that saw him wave vehicles through the border that were importing cocaine and guns into Canada from Washington state.
Justice Selwyn Romilly found Baljinder Singh Kandola, a former employee with Canada Border Services, and his co-accused Shminder Singh Johal, a former co-owner with Dream Motors and Speedline Auto Sales, guilty of a handful of offences in New Westminster's Supreme Court of B.C.
The men were arrested near the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C., in October 2007, after police seized 208 kilograms of cocaine, three firearms and ammunition from a car driven by his accomplice, Herman Singh Rair.
Key to the conspiracy and importation of cocaine into Canada was Kandola's job with the border agency, said Romilly.
"He played a crucial role in using his position as a public official with the CBSA to aid himself and others to import cocaine into Canada," said Romilly in his reasons for judgment released Tuesday.
"It hardly needs mentioning that Kandola's conduct was directly related to his position as a (border services officer) and was an intentional, serious and marked departure from the standards set out for those in his position."
Romilly found Kandola guilty of conspiring to import cocaine into Canada, importing cocaine, breach of trust and corruptly accepting, obtaining or agreeing to accept money with the intent to facilitate an indictable offence.
In fact, Kandola admitted to taking a $10,000 bribe from Johal for "waiving him through customs," noted Romilly, who said the former guard likely took more.
Romilly found Johal guilty of conspiracy to import and the importation of cocaine, as well as the importation of three handguns.
He also found Johal guilty of possession of cocaine and corruptly giving or offering to give money or valuable consideration to Kandola.
While the charges span the months between May 2006 and October 2007, the court heard border officials had warned guards to watch for anything suspicious around Johal's company, Speedline Auto Sales, which was suspected of smuggling cocaine into Canada as early as March 2005.
The court also heard Kandola made numerous unauthorized inquiries in 2006 into the border service's databases related to Johal, his brother or Johal’s companies.
Throughout 2007, the men also met face-to-face on several occasions on several occasions, the court heard.
"The evidence demonstrates that Kandola was persistent in attempting to obtain benefits from Johal in exchange for Kandola’s role in the conspiracy to guarantee safe passage into Canada for Johal and Rair," said Romilly.
"The evidence also demonstrates that Johal made every effort to ensure that Kandola was kept happy."
Surveilling the men were police officers, who recorded border crossings on July 28, 2007, Sept. 6-7, 2007 and Oct. 24-25, 2007.
In fact, police built much of their case on communications between the men who were using regular cellphones, which were intercepted, and dedicated cellphones, which were not subject to interception.
Police officers made their move in the early hours of Oct. 25, 2007, while Johal and the accomplice were re-entering Canada after spending the day in Washington state.
"Shortly after Rair entered Canada, he was arrested by the RCMP. Two hundred and eight kilograms of cocaine and three firearms were located in eleven cardboard boxes in his GMC Yukon," state court documents.
Meantime, Johal was arrested in his vehicle nearby and Kandola was arrested in his booth at the border.
Police also seized three handguns and ammunition from Riar’s vehicle, as well as 40 rounds of ammunition.
A two-day sentencing hearing is scheduled for Kandola and Johal starting July 9 in New Westminster.