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Driver crossing border offered to say “yes next time” to smuggling offer to help agents catch the “bad guys”

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A truck driver offered to help catch drug smugglers “next time” while speaking with agents at the Canadian border with cocaine already in his trailer, documents show. 

The incident happened back in December of 2016, at the crossing from Detroit into Windsor. The driver was sentenced to 10 years in 2020. The driver tried to appeal his conviction of importing cocaine into Canada, possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, but his appeal was denied on Tuesday, October 24th. 

According to the National Post, truck driver Manpreet Singh Dhatt pulled up to the commercial inspection booth at the Ambassador Bridge and gave an agent his ID, commercial paperwork, and a manifest stating he was hauling oranges. He then told agents that he had been pressed by someone he knew to smuggle goods into Canada, and offered to say “yes next time. Then you can arrest everyone involved at once, so they don’t think I was part of it.”

Dhatt was then directed to speak to an investigator, who asked if he was smuggling anything. 

Dhatt told the investigator “no. Nothing. No problems,” and then submitted to an inspection of his trailer. Agents then found 30 bricks of cocaine hidden between the boxes of oranges. Dhatt was then arrested. 

At his trial, Dhatt admitted that he had been smuggling cocaine, but said he was acting under threat. He said that he initially declined the offer, but the man became “angry” and “dangerous” so Dhatt complied. 

He was instructed to drive to a truck stop in California after picking up the load of oranges and park his truck there. Two men then entered his trailer, and he was instructed to purchase a new seal and place it on his trailer. Dhatt followed instructions and eventually stopped at another truck stop, where he entered his trailer, found bricks of cocaine, and took one into his cab, where he opened it, used some of the drugs, and taped it back up. 

In court at his initial trial, Dhatt said he thought he had come clean at the border by offering to help the agents catch the “bad guys,” and that he was directed to speak with an investigator so that they could come up with a plan to bust the drug smugglers. 

During his appeal, Dhatt represented himself in court, and claimed that he could not be convicted of smuggling cocaine into Canada because the drugs were seized by border agents before he was allowed to cross the border into the country. The Court of Appeal for Ontario denied his pleas. 

“There is no sense in which he did not bring, or cause the cocaine to be brought, into Canada,” wrote a representative of the court.

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