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Ontario trucker found guilty in 200-kg meth smuggling case

A Toronto-area man has been found guilty of trying to smuggle nearly 200 kilograms of methamphetamine into Canada at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., in 2019.

At the time, the Canada Border Services Agency estimated the value of the drugs at more than $25.5 million and said the seizure constituted “the largest methamphetamine seizure, on record, for the CBSA within the past seven years.”

Mohamed Ahmed Abdirahman was convicted Friday in a judge-alone trial on charges of importing methamphetamine and possession of the drug for the purpose of trafficking. 

His lawyer, Jessica Grbevski, said it was too early for to comment on whether an appeal would be sought.

According to the decision, CBSA officers seized 196.7 kilograms of methamphetamine from inside the cab of a tractor-trailer on Dec. 24, 2019. Abdirahman, who lived in Mississauga at the time he was charged, was on a 14-day return trip to California for his Brampton, Ont.-based employer. 

After Abdirahman was selected for secondary screening at the border, officers came across multiple containers of “containing a white crystal substance” that testing later confirmed was methamphetamine.

Plastic bags filled with white crystals.
Packages of what were later confirmed to be methamphetamine were seized by the CBSA at the Ambassador Bridge port of entry in Windsor on Dec. 24, 2019. (Canada Border Services Agency)

The officers were wearing personal protective equipment during the search in part because the drug created an overpowering odour — “described as a smell similar to nail polish, which was irritating to the nose and eyes,” Justice Bruce G. Thomas wrote in the decision.

A retired RCMP officer who spoke at the trial as an expert testified that methamphetamine of this quality — 100 per cent pure — could be worth anywhere between $4.5 million or $29.4 million, depending on whether it was sold by the gram or the kilo.

There was acknowledgment that the drugs were found in Abdirahman’s vehicle, but at issue in the case was whether he knew about the methamphetamine and was responsible. 

The defence put forward alternate explanations of what happened, including the idea that someone else might have planted the drugs without Abdirahman’s knowledge.

Grbevski, Abdirahman’s lawyer, declined to comment further on those arguments, but in reference to the outcome, said, “We did everything we possibly could in the situation that it was.”

Carts full of boxes and a plastic bag with white crystals inside.
During a secondary examination, CBSA officers discovered nine boxes filled with what was later confirmed to be methamphetamine (Canada Border Services Agency)

Abdirahman had calls with contact dubbed El Chapo

According to the decision, it was Abdirahman’s third trip as truck driver for the company. At one point, the decision states, Abdirahman took a 22-hour break that involved crossing the border into Mexico and taking an Uber under the name Zack Moris.

He also communicated by phone with someone dubbed as El Chapo.

“The [cellphone] extraction report shows over 80 communications with El Chapo from Dec. 2, 2019, to Dec. 23, 2019, with 14 calls on Dec. 23, 2019, the day before Abdirahman’s border crossing.”

Thomas, the presiding justice, found the Mexico trip, the communication with El Chapo and the Zack Moris alias were “suspicious” but unnecessary to support a finding of guilt.

No fingerprints could be extracted from the evidence seized. But the justice concluded that a roll of tape found in a compartment behind the driver’s seat matched the tape used on one of the boxes of drugs — suggesting the box was sealed by the accused himself.

Thomas acknowledged the Crown’s case was circumstantial, but said the evidence was “overwhelming.”

“There are no plausible theories or reasonable possibilities based on logic and experience that raise a reasonable doubt,” he wrote.

A sentencing hearing is set for the end of June, Grbevski said. She hopes the judge considers Abdirahman has two young children and is the primary breadwinner of his family.

“That’s very important. He has no criminal record. This is the first time before the courts,” Grbevski said.

Abdirahman, who has been out on bail since 2019, was also able to abide by those conditions without issue, she said.

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