A 47-year-old Brampton, Ont. man has pleaded guilty to trafficking $120 million worth of cocaine into Canada from the U.S. via hidden compartments on tractor-trailers driven across international border crossings.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a release that Harinder Dhaliwal pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to exporting five kilograms or more of cocaine from the U.S.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch said in a release that between 2006 and 2011, Dhaliwal conspired with other suspects to import cocaine into Canada and export marijuana and ecstasy into the U.S. through international bridges in the Buffalo, New York and Niagara Regions.
Dhaliwal admitted to being part of an “international conspiracy” that allegedly trafficked more than 3,000 kilograms of cocaine, most of which came into Canada through western New York state.
“Through the course of the investigation, United States law enforcement officers recovered a combined 230 kilograms of cocaine,” authorities said.
“Of that amount, 123 kilograms of cocaine, which represents the largest seizure arising from a single investigation in the District’s history, were obtained through two separate seizures occurring at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and in Geneva, NY. The remaining 107 kilograms were seized in California.”
Ravinder Arora, Michael Bagri, Parminder Sidhu, Alvin Randhawa, Gursharan Singh, and Huy Hoang Nguyen were also charged in the investigation and have been convicted.
“The defendants utilized tractor-trailers that contained false compartments within the floor of tractor-trailers,” authorities said.
“In addition to cocaine, the tractor-trailers were used to transport ecstasy and hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the United States from Canada.”
Authorities said they identified around 12 smuggling trips from late 2009 to September 2010, which involved more than 1,600 kilograms of cocaine being transported from the Western District of New York into Canada.
The joint investigation involved Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, United States Customs and Border Protection, Peel Regional Police, Toronto Police and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Sentencing for Dhaliwal has been scheduled for Aug. 16, 2017 in Buffalo. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10,000 fine.