Shminder Singh Johal arrives at New Westminster B.C. Supreme Court Monday morning for the start of his sentence hearing. The Crown prosecutor says Johal and co-accused Baljinder Singh Kandola

Shminder Singh Johal arrives at New Westminster B.C. Supreme Court Monday morning for the start of his sentence hearing. The Crown prosecutor says Johal and co-accused Baljinder Singh Kandola

Prosecutor wants 20 years jail for South Surrey drug smugglers

Former border guard and associate were motivated by profit and greed, court told

Baljinder Kandola and Shminder Johal should get 20 years for smuggling an “enormous” amount of cocaine through the Pacific Highway border crossing, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Monday.

Kandola, a Cloverdale resident who worked as a border guard, and Johal, a Richmond resident who claimed to operate a car-parts importing business, were motivated by “profit and greed,” Crown prosecutor James Torrance said.

“This case is about the corruption of a CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) officer and the importation of an enormous amount of cocaine,” Torrance said.

Kandola and Johal were found guilty June 29 on multiple drug- and bribery-related charges stemming from their arrest in 2007.

During their sentencing hearing in New Westminster Monday, Torrance told Justice Selwyn Romilly that while the two men have no previous criminal records, the nature of their “planned and deliberate” conspiracy demands a lengthy prison term.

“The scope and the scale and the sophistication of the conduct… push the sentences to the upper end of the range,” Torrance said.

Kandola and Johal – along with a third man, Richmond resident Herman Riar – were arrested Oct. 25, 2007, after police found 11 boxes with 208 bricks of cocaine worth more than $5 million inside a GMC Yukon Denali that passed unchecked through the South Surrey truck border crossing into Canada.

According to evidence heard at trial, Johal and Riar headed for the border in two vehicles, with Johal in the lead and Riar following, acting as the “transporter” with the drugs in his vehicle.

They timed their trips so Kandola would be the officer on duty, and he waved them through.

Police believe the conspirators made several trips between May 2006 and the day of the arrests.

Evidence indicated Kandola pocketed at least $10,000 for turning a blind eye to the smuggling, including $4,000 worth of work to upgrade his car, a Mini Cooper.

Riar, described as a “minor player” in the scheme, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in jail.

A fourth man, Vancouver resident Charles Lai, was arrested in March 2008 in the U.S. as the alleged leader of the smuggling scheme. He was sentenced to 13 years by a U.S. District Court judge in 2009.

During Monday’s hearing, Torrance asked the judge to order the forfeiture of $223,880 Cdn seized from Johal’s home – most of it in bundles of $20 and $100 bills.

Kandola’s lawyer, James Sutherland, was expected, after Peace Arch News’ deadline Monday, to argue for a less-severe sentence.

The sentencing hearing began with an application by Sutherland and Johal’s defence lawyer, Daniel Markovitz, to have the matter delayed until the fall to allow a pre-sentence report to be prepared on the two men by an independent third party.

Torrance objected, arguing the judge has all the information he needs to make a decision.

“We are now approaching the five-year anniversary (of the arrests),” Torrance said. “The matter should not be delayed.”

Romilly not only refused to grant the application, he ordered both men jailed because their lawyers said they were unable to proceed according to a previously agreed-upon schedule of Monday and Tuesday for arguments.

The decision was a surprise that produced audible gasps from family members of both men. Two women burst into tears and one fled the courtroom.

After a five-minute adjournment, defence lawyers said they were ready to proceed and asked the judge to lift his order of incarceration, which Romilly did.

The sentencing hearing was expected to wrap up Tuesday.

A decision was expected by Friday.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Man, 68, charged with arson, assault and threatening in Whalley summer fire

David Thind charged in connection with a house fire in the 13000-block of 112A Avenue on Aug. 28

The South Surrey ‘Underground House’ includes skylights and just one side ‘window’ – this glass door that leads out to a patio. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey ‘underground house’ set to go up for sale

‘Unassuming’ John Kay-designed home include skylights, just one window

Swimmer Arianna Hunsicker outside the pool at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex. The Surrey Knights swim club member is aiming to compete at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next summer. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey swimmer aims for Paralympic Games amid COVID-19 challenges at Fleetwood pool

Arianna Hunsicker and other Knights club members train at the only public pool open in Surrey

One man is dead after a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. (Shane MacKichan photos)
One dead after targeted shooting in Surrey

Incident took place near shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway

Items collected from last year’s Ocean Park Food Drive. (Contributed file photo)
Ocean Park Food Drive expands, open to residents south of 32 Avenue

Homeowners south of 32 Avenue and west of 160 Street encouraged to put donations on doorstep

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)
Former Pitt Meadows mayor suspended from practising law for 14 months

Statement from John Becker says anxiety and depression played role

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Most Read