Trucking Company Owner Pleads Guiltyby Jana Ritter - Published: 1/23/2014
The owner of a Canadian trucking company has pleaded guilty to smuggling hundreds of kilograms of cocaine across the border in western New York in his trucks. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo says 39-year-old Parminder Sidhu of Brampton, Ont., pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court Wednesday. His company, Prime 9, had trucks outfitted with secret compartments that allowed drivers to bring thousands of pounds of cocaine into Canada.
The Court heard that nearly a dozen trips were completed in 2009 and 2010, resulting in a total of 1,617 kilograms worth of cocaine being moved from California to Canada via New York State which was worth millions of dollars. Sidhu pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export from the United States more than five kilograms of cocaine. The charge carries a minimum 10-year jail sentence, though Sidhu could also face a maximum of life in prison as well as a $10,000,000 fine.
“This prosecution demonstrates that American and Canadian law enforcement partners can work seamlessly together to protect the citizens of both countries,” U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said in a statement Wednesday.
Two other men from the Brampton Ontario Canada area were accused in connection to the smuggling ring. The drug smuggling operation was first discovered on Sept. 8, 2010 when one of Sidhu’s truck’s was stopped at the U.S.-Canada border. Officials discovered 90 kilograms of cocaine — worth an estimated $4.4 million on the street — hidden inside the truck. The driver, Ravinder Arora pled guilty in a U.S. federal court in 2011 to the charge of conspiracy to export cocaine. Michael Bagri, another smuggling-ring associate also from the Toronto area, pleaded guilty to the same charge in January 2012. All three men are awaiting sentencing.
On May 1, 2011, Sidhu directed defendant Bagri to travel once again to California. After hiding another 26 kilograms of cocaine in another tractor trailer, the rig was driven to a truck stop in Pembroke, N.Y. The tractor trailer was then picked up by a driver hired by Parminder Sidhu. As the driver exited the truck stop, Bagri followed behind in another vehicle. Agents later stopped the tractor trailer and Sidhu’s vehicle and seized the 26 kilograms of cocaine.
During the execution of a search warrant at Sidhu’s residence in Canada, agents discovered drug ledgers which detailed nine addition smuggling trips in 2009 and 2010. These trips involved approximately 1,617 kilograms of cocaine being transported from the United States into Canada.
He faces at least 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in May.