Drug courier sentenced to 12 years in prison
A B.C. truck driver arrested after delivering millions of dollars in illegal drugs to a Winnipeg dealer has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and faces likely deportation to his native India.
Manvir Singh, 26, pleaded guilty in December to one count of trafficking fetanyl. He returned to court for sentencing last week.
The Crown had recommended Manitoba Court of King’s Bench Justice Vic Toews sentence Singh to 13 years in prison. Defence lawyer Shimon Segal had pushed for no more than nine years, arguing Singh didn’t know specifically what drugs he had in his possession.
“Imposing even a significantly less period of imprisonment here would not in this case minimize any collateral immigration consequence and would in my view result in an inappropriate or artificial sentence,” Toews said in a written decision delivered Jan. 29.
Court previously heard members of the Winnipeg Police Service guns and gangs unit had a criminal target, Curtis Ndatirwa, under surveillance Nov. 29, 2021, when they followed him to Deacon’s Corner, east of the city, and saw him meet with a semi-truck driver.
The truck driver gave Ndatirwa two bags, which he stashed in the rear of his car.
Police followed Ndatirwa back into the city and pulled him over. Officers seized the bags and found 15 kilograms of methamphetamine, two kg of fentanyl, and one kg of cocaine. Police estimated the street value at $3 million.
Winnipeg police alerted the Brandon Police Service, which arrested Singh later that afternoon, as he passed the city on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Brandon police found an additional 400 grams of fentanyl in the cab of Singh’s truck and nearly $30,000 in cash.
Crown attorney Julian Kim described Singh as a high-level courier, used to insulate his drug boss from detection and prosecution.
“The Crown is accepting.. he is not the directing mind, but in the same breath, I want to emphasize the important role couriers have in these wider organizations,” Kim said.
Singh fled to Canada from India after he was attacked in retribution because his father’s testimony sent several men to prison, one of whom died, Segal said.
He came to Canada on a student visa and, in 2020, filed for refugee status, Segal said.
Singh abandoned his studies and turned to truck driving, but needed more money to pursue his refugee claim, Segal said.
“There is no evidence he was making a handsome income as a truck driver,” he said. When Singh heard word on the street “if he wants to make extra money, there is an opportunity,” he took it, the lawyer said.
“He is one of the most vulnerable people, someone who fears being sent back to their country,” Segal said. “He’s able to be taken advantage of by the people he was taken advantage of.”
Ndatirwa remains before the court.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
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