Truck Driver Caught Smuggling Cocaine Inside Banana Boxes
A truck driver from Canada revealed in Great Falls federal court Thursday, June 10, about the drug trafficking crime he committed for hiding cocaine in boxes of bananas.
Behind Banana Boxes
The Canadian truck driver, Gurpal Singh Gill, 39, admitted to hiding cocaine in the trailers of bananas that he was transporting.
According to CBC Canada, the acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson shared during a news release that U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents discovered 211 pounds of cocaine in a trailer loaded with bananas. The authorities have found the illegal drugs during an inspection as the Canadian driver, Gill, was trying to enter Canada.
Based on the court documents, officers of the CBP allegedly targeted commercial drivers that are entering the Sweetgrass Port in Toole County. The said drivers were destined for Canada from the U.S.
Moreover, at around 8 p.m, CBP officers saw a Freightliner semi-truck with license plates from Alberta traveling north on Interstate 15 at the Sweetgrass Port of Entry. The officers checked the documents of the semi-truck and identified the driver as Gill and the only occupant of the Freightliner truck.
While inspecting the semi-truck, officers learned that Gill was transporting a load of fresh bananas collected from California to be brought to Calgary. But they noticed that there was a missing rear seal on the trailer of the truck, which prompted them to conduct a secondary inspection.
The officers inspecting the truck saw seven unmarked boxes placed on top of bananas in the back of the trailer. They also noticed that the unmarked boxes were not the same as the boxes of bananas, as they were different in color and size.
Furthermore, when the CBP officers opened the boxes, they found a white powdery substance, which they initially suspected as cocaine. They have determined based on the analysis made by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that the packages found in the unusual boxes were cocaine. The packages contained a net weight of 95.7 kilograms or 211 pounds of cocaine.
The 39-year-old Canadian driver pleaded guilty to possession of illegal drugs with intent to distribute cocaine as charged in superseding information. Gill faces a mandatory minimum of five years to 40 years in prison, with a $5 million fine. He also faces at least four years of supervised release.
Meanwhile, Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided and set the sentencing for September 30. Gill was currently detained pending further proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Betley is currently prosecuting the case while being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. CBP.
On the other hand, it is not the first time that drugs were included in a banana shipment.
In January, more than 20 bricks of cocaine hidden in bundles of bananas were delivered to grocery stores in Canada. The first report came from the small town of Kelowna, Central Okanagan in British Columbia, where the owner of a small shop discovered dozens of packages of coke tucked inside his banana shipment, The Independent reported.
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