Trucker freed after being tricked into smuggling over 2,200 pounds of marijuana through Michigan
A trucker was released from federal custody after convincing authorities he had no idea he was carrying more than a ton of marijuana when his rig crossed the United States from Canada last month , but its detention cost the native of India the opportunity to become Canadian. citizen.
Long-haul trucker Tasbir Singh was tricked into smuggling nearly 2,270 pounds of marijuana worth nearly $ 3.6 million from some warehouse in North York, Ontario, Canada, located about an hour north of Toronto, US via Detroit, where Singh was arrested by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on July 7.
Charged by a federal court of illegal importation and possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, Singh, 32, who has no criminal record, could have faced at least five years and up to 40 years in prison.
Based on the evidence and support provided by Singh’s employer, Best Care Transport, and the family of the hired Detroit defense attorney, the US prosecutor’s office agreed to dismiss the charges and release Singh on July 23. The investigation of who was actually behind the expedition is ongoing.
It has since been determined by Singh’s attorney and his trucking company that sophisticated smugglers fraudulently placed a shipping order using legitimate documents, company names and customs clearance documents.
The smuggler ordered a truck using the name of an existing freight brokerage firm that specializes in matching trucking equipment with shippers who need to move freight.
They were “very professional” and used all the “right lingo,” said Rose Bajwa, director of transportation operations at Best Care. She believes fraudsters should know that the truce company frequently runs trucks between Ontario and Ohio.
The trucking company noticed that the broker was using a generic Gmail email address, rather than one with a company-specific domain. When asked about it, the customer simply replied that it was his personal email address and provided all other required documents. The shipment was originally cited in Columbus, Ohio, but once the freight was loaded, the bill of lading that listed the shipping details indicated that it was destined for Wooster, Ohio. Bajwa said the client claimed he was opening a new business there.
Singh never laid eyes on his cargo, which is listed in the documents as “compression spring.” According to his employer and Singh’s statements to investigators, the cargo was loaded into his box trailer and sealed. Transportation seals cannot be removed without being broken and are used during shipment to ensure that the cargo is not disturbed during transportation.
Bajwa is confident that the person who hired Singh has previous work experience in the trucking industry.
“What I can say is that the people who committed this fraud were experts,” defense lawyer Ellen Michaels said. “They were pros.”
After Singh attempted to enter the United States through the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, CBP officers detected an “anomaly” and removed the truck for further inspection. Using x-rays, they determined that it wasn’t just compression springs on the paddles. Inside were 10 boxes per pallet filled with packets of vacuum-packed marijuana.
“We were baffled,” Bajwa said. “Something like this has never happened to us.
She said the company’s number one goal was to get the driver released from prison.
Singh, married with an 18-month-old father, is an Indian citizen but has lived in Canada for nearly a decade and was expected to become a naturalized Canadian citizen while imprisoned in the United States, according to his lawyer. . His release date did not come soon enough and Singh missed his citizenship appointment.
Michaels said Best Care Transport worked closely with her to compile the records and prove Singh is likely innocent of any crime.
Local Ontario police said they had no ongoing investigation into the case.
Michaels said Singh’s arrest should serve as a warning to transport companies to take more stringent security measures to ensure the legitimacy of the cargo they are carrying.
“Marijuana grown in Canada has been regularly smuggled in commercial trucks from Canada to the United States where it has been distributed for the past 20 years,” said the dismissed criminal complaint against Singh. “The distribution areas for this marijuana are typically found in the midwest and southeastern regions of the United States, where large amounts of very potent marijuana are difficult to purchase.”
Customs officials have reported an exponential boom in marijuana seizures at the Michigan border in recent years.