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Contraband
04/02/2010

Canadian trucker sentenced to 3 years in prison for smuggling 76 kilos of cocaine

Load worth nearly $2.3 million caught at Pacific Highway border crossing

SEATTLE - A Canadian trucker, who acted as a drug mule and attempted to smuggle more than $2 million worth of cocaine into Canada hidden behind false walls in his moving van, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Sukhvinder Shoker, 43, from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle for conspiracy to export cocaine. He was arrested in Oct. 20, 2009, as he attempted to cross into Canada at the Pacific Highway Port of Entry. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman noted that Shoker's criminal activity was an aberration in an otherwise law-abiding life.

According to records filed in the case, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers inspected Shoker's moving truck they discovered the false walls filled with 76 kilos of cocaine. The cocaine had an estimated street value of $2.28 million.

The ensuing criminal investigation involved U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and CBP.

While acknowledging that Shoker had a limited role in the drug conspiracy, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Cornell urged a significant sentence in a document filed with the court. "Given the recent violence in Canada as a result of the drug trade, the defendant's conduct had the potential to compromise the safety and security of others in his community," Cornell wrote.

"There is no honor in living a lifestyle of drug trafficking and deception with the hope of turning a personal profit," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations. "ICE maintains its resolve to investigate, apprehend and bring to justice those who participate in this type of border crime."

In his statement to the court, Shoker claimed it was the hardships of the recession that got him involved in the criminal scheme. Speaking through tears, Shoker said he had always taught his children to avoid drugs, and now he is convicted of a drug-related offense.