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Contraband
10/08/2008

3 men from India found guilty in record cocaine seizure

148 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $1.5 million was seized during the investigation

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- Following a two-week trial, three men were found guilty by a federal jury here Thursday for their role in transporting into Michigan more than 63 kilograms (138 pounds) of cocaine, valued at more than $1.5 million. These guilty verdicts were announced by U.S. Attorney Charles R. Gross, Western District of Michigan, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz.

Tarlochan Singh Guron, 51, Surinder Singh Dhaliwal, 29, both nationals from India and Canadian citizens, and Baljit Singh, 36, a national of India living in the Washington State, were found guilty of possessing more than five kilograms of cocaine following a jury trial that lasted two weeks. The defendants all remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service without bond pending sentencing. Sentencing guidelines for these convictions range from 10 years to life in prison. Three other defendants: Rajinder Singh, 25, Sandeet Singh, 25, and Paramjeet Singh, 31, all pleaded guilty before trial and also await sentencing.

Evidence resulting from the ICE investigation presented during the trial showed Surinder Singh Dhaliwal, a truck driver for GTX of Toronto, Canada, transported 63.13 kilograms of cocaine in the cab of his tractor-trailer from at least as far away as Utah to a Michigan Welcome Center on Interstate 94 in April 2008. ICE agents conducting surveillance witnessed the cocaine transfer to another GTX truck driven by Tarlochan Singh Guron. Guron was ultimately stopped by Michigan State Police in Van Buren County.

"The 148 pounds of cocaine seized in this case represents the largest cocaine seizure in the history of the Western District of Michigan," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations. "As a result of this investigation, six traffickers have been put out of business and jailed, and a significant amount of cocaine has been kept out of our communities. These results were accomplished through the cooperative efforts of the dedicated local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors that worked with us."

All three defendants testified in their own defense during the trial. Guron and Dhaliwal claimed that they were forced to transport the cocaine, but they could not identify the person(s) who allegedly threatened them into carrying the cocaine.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Rene Shekmer, Western District of Michigan.