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What happened to the baby carrots?


I would have thought the decision by Ontario superior court judge Michael Quigley to dismiss the drug charges against Avtar Singh Sandhu of Brampton, Ont., would have drawn howls, but there doesn’t seem to be much reaction. The judge felt the evidence was impugned because of the way it was gathered. On Feb. 7, 2007, an MTO official entered the trailer Sandhu was pulling after hew was brought to a stop and chased down by Mark Dorken from Truck Town Terminals of Milton who noticed Sandu “acting suspiciously.” Halton Regional cops joined the group on a 401 ramp. What the cops and MTO officer Jonas Leeman found was 208 kgs of uncut cocaine in brown packages nestled among crates of baby carrots–one of the biggest all time drug busts in Canada, let alone Halton.
Evidently, the judge thought that there was no reason to open the back doors of the trailer as the matter was a regulatory one and didn’t require a search of the cargo. Personally, I’ve always thought the MTO were supreme beings who could do anything they liked to your truck, so this is news to me. Mr. Sandhu is very lucky to walk away. Had this occurred in the US he’d be doing some serious time. I don’t know this man’s story or how he came to be hauling this commodity, but a google search reveals lots of this kind of activity. Jail sentences are stiff on both sides of the border, 12-20 years in the slammer, but that hasn’t stopped the flow via truck.
Recently CBSA intercepted two containers that were headed to Calgary, loaded to the hilt with poppy heads, the raw source of opium, morphine and heroin. Labelled as “dried grasses” the stuff was probably on its way to get processed in Calgary where the chemicals are available. Processing opium requires lots of chemicals, and you may or may not know that the processing of Afghani opium takes place in Pakistan where the chemicals are more readily available.
Regardless, this kind of trucking is a scourge, and it’s disturbing to note that this manifestation of evil sometimes involves new Canadians and immigrants, who may be more easily exploited or duped into hauling contraband. I certainly hope Mr. Sandu didn’t get to keep the coke, but what happened to the baby carrots?
Lastly, we truck drivers have been displaced by retail clerks as the most prevalent Canadian profession for men, according to the 2006 census. We’ve held this title for more than ten years so it’s a shame to see it slide away.
“Although there was a relatively large increase in the number of truck drivers between 2001 and 2006, truck driving was replaced by retail salespersons and sales clerks as the most common occupation among men.
“Nearly 285,800 men reported that they were retail salespeople or clerks, taking over the top spot from truck driving, which was reported by about 276,200. The third most prevalent occupation among men was still retail trade managers, at 192,200.”
Watch out for those retail trade managers, they’re making a move too!.


Harry Rudolfs

Harry Rudolfs

Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio. With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude.
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6 Comments » for What happened to the baby carrots?
  1. James Menzies says:

    Harry, I too am shocked he walked away. As part of Operation Convoy/Pipeline, RCMP Sgt. Rob Ruiters works tirelessly to reach out to the trucking industry and appeal to them to report suspicious activity and help fight truck-related crime.
    It must be extremely disheartening for him when someone actually does take note of (and report) suspicious behaviour and a major haul of dope is uncovered but then the guy walks free over a technicality. I hadn’t heard of Mr. Sandhu’s release – good catch on your part. There’s only one way to win the war against truck-involved organized crime – lock’em up and throw away the key. What kind of a deterrent is this?
    James

  2. meslippery says:

    From the OTA Convention
    Bruno Muller with Caron Transportation
    Speaking on drivers wages
    Quote: the guy is basically working for minimum wage
    most of the time. UnQuote
    So its no wonder Retail salespeople are taking top spot
    for Male occupation it pays more.
    I dont believe it yet in all cases but for the long haul guy
    out there for weeks at time there no doubt in my mind.
    meslippery

  3. Harry,
    The judge’s decision is scandalous, the crown must appeal.
    Sam Kopytowski

  4. Harvey Tomlinson says:

    If that would have been a true born Canadian he would have been in jail by now and still there. I think the crown sure appeal to. I beleive anyone who has anything to do with drugs should not go unpunished.

  5. Andrew D says:

    The driver was there when the drugs were being hidden thats what brought this to securities attention. Why were men climbing through 5ft snow banks to access the back of the trailer that was parked where it shouldn’t have been? Once questioned all parties took off and security stopped the truck and waited for the mto & opp. Security risked their life for a judge who cared less. Street value was said to be $20 million & I wonder if they got the drugs back since the judge didn’t like the fact the cops opened the trailer door without his permission.

  6. Harry Rudolfs says:

    A few comments on the Sandhu cocaine bust: I got most of this information from a story written by Kirk Martin, justice reporter for the Globe and Mail Oct. 6, and I’m still surprised it didn’t raise the hackles of the public. Martin, for the most part, got the details right, except it was Truck Town Terminals of Milton (not Truckdowns). Clearly Sandhu was aware that he was hauling some very “sensitive” cargo and that’s why he kept evading Dorken from Truck Town Terminals when he was boxed in several times. I don’t think the fact that the driver spoke Punjabi and very little English had anything to do with the decision. Justice Quigley cited the way the evidence was collected as the reason it was impugned. Does this mean we drivers don’t have to allow access to the back of the truck to MTO and police officers? I’m still confused on this point. Ironically, had the transfer of drugs occurred at a warehouse or even at the Oakville scales no one would have been the wiser. Quick thinking security people at the fuel terminal foiled the transport of these drugs and they should be congratulated. I hope the drug cops followed up on this incident and have the trucking company and this driver under scrutiny. The next step would be the federal appeals court and I haven’t heard anything about an appeal.

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