An attempt to smuggle cocaine in mail through Mississauga gets Brampton man convicted
Published October 19, 2022 at 10:10 pm
Two men have been convicted and a third has been acquitted after an attempt to smuggle 3.5 kilograms of cocaine through the mail, that ended during an inspection in Mississauga.
Back on November 5, 2017, an officer with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) was inspecting packages in Mississauga’s International Mail Processing Centre, according to the conviction decision from Justice James Stribopoulos.
The officer was x-raying the packages to inspect for contraband when they came across a package from the South American nation, Suriname. The x-ray showed that the box contained organic material and the officer opened it for a closer look.
Inside they found three small purses, a computer case, and spools of thread. The officer found what appeared to be cocaine hidden in the purse lining, the case and the spools.
The CBSA called the RCMP to investigate. When the RCMP took possession of the package they found 3,498 grams of cocaine stuffed into the objects. According to expert testimony in court, these nearly 3.5 kilograms are worth between $125,000 and $350,000 on the street.
The RCMP left one gram in the box and equipped it with a GPS tracking device to find the person it was addressed to. They released the box in a “controlled delivery.” The package had been sent to “Chris Cohen” and addressed to a Scarborough UPS store.
Police began to surveil the store on November 14, 2017. That day Shomari Williams went to UPS and picked up the box, according to an undercover officer posing as an employee.
A man later identified as Williams hopped into a Nissan and drove from the scene with RCMP officers in pursuit. The officers lost the Nissan on Hwy 401, but tracked it to a Superstore through the GPS.
When the pursuing officer arrived in plainclothes, the Nissan was parked next a Honda Accord. Two men got out of the Honda and went to the trunk of the Nissan. The officer approached an ordered the pair to the ground. One man complied, but the other snatched the package from the Nissan, hopped in the Honda and took off.
During his flight the driver of the Honda smashed into a minivan driven by another officer and escaped the scene. However officers again used to GPS to track the Honda to a townhouse complex in North York.
The Honda was unoccupied when officers arrived at the townhouse so they placed it under surveillance. Sometime later a pickup truck pulled up right in front of the Honda, a man got out and popped the Honda’s trunk. The officers went over and arrested the man later identified as the accused, Emmanuel Nwankwo.
Two other men including the accused Fitzroy Allen were also arrested in the truck. The officers found the package still in the trunk of the Honda.
The investigation continued with a police raid at Allen’s Brampton home. Police say they found an additional 303 grams of cocaine in the house.
Stribopoulos notes in his decision that most of the evidence against the three accused was circumstantial and therefore “an inference of guilt must be the only reasonable inference.”
The accused argued that the Crown could not prove their identities or that the package was indeed from outside Canada. The CBSA officer first encountered the package on the x-ray belt and could not testify as to who had placed it there.
However, Stribopoulos concluded that the package was indeed from outside the country. The sortation facility is geared specifically for international mail and the officer testified that the packages they dealt with “are all from foreign countries.”
“It is inconceivable that anyone sending a package within Canada that contained cocaine would label it to appear as if it was coming from abroad. After all, anyone involved in trafficking cocaine would undoubtedly know that international mail is subject to inspection, whereas domestic mail is not,” Stribopoulos said.
Williams alone was charged with the importation of cocaine specifically. Allen was charged with conspiracy to import and possession with intent to traffick. Both Allen and Nwankwo were charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine for trafficking.
However, an additional issue at the court was proving that Williams was indeed who the Crown claimed he was. The PO box at the UPS store was registered under the name Aaron Thomas and the package was addressed to Chris Cohen.
When Williams went to the UPS, the undercover officer said he and the store owner got into an argument about the package. The owners did not want to release the package as Williams’ produced ID that didn’t match the addressee, Cohen.
Williams, identified in court by the undercover, spoke over the phone with UPS and left with the package. On his arrest in the Superstore parking lot, the RCMP found ID in his wallet under the names Aaron Thomas and Shomari Williams.
Numerous cards were in the wallet assigned to Williams, but only one driver’s license was under the name Thomas. However they all appeared to be the same person. Stribopoulos therefore concluded that the “Thomas” license was a piece of fake ID.
Additionally, numerous cell phone messages between the package sender and participants it in the importation scheme implied the participants were aware something illegal was being hidden in the package. However the Crown had to prove Williams knew it was cocaine.
“Having considered all the evidence carefully, I am sure Mr. Williams knew he was involved in importing and transporting something illegal and agreed with at least one other person to participate in an undertaking of that nature,” Stribopoulos said.
Be that as it may, Stribopoulos still had his doubts that Williams knew about the contents of the package. He found that it could be inferred that as a courier who only had the package for about a half hour that Williams was the “lowest echelon of the scheme.”
“As a result, whoever else was involved would arguably have good reason to tell Mr. Williams as little as possible.” Due to this doubt Stribopoulos had to acquit Williams on all charges.
As for Nwankwo, the man who took the package from the Honda in the townhouse parking lot, Stribopoulos found him guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine. Cell phone records showed that he was in contact with “Solomon.” The two shared details of the shipment and “Solomon” called Nwankwo repeatedly on the night of his arrest.
“Mr. Nwankwo was, at the very least, a member of a conspiracy to possess the cocaine hidden within the box. Moreover, given its quantity and value, the conspiracy’s object was undoubtedly to traffic the cocaine,” Stribopoulos decided.
Finally, Allen the man from Brampton, was found to have sent $1,000 to someone in Suriname through Western Union two months before his arrest and four days before Williams rented the UPS box under the assumed name.
“The entirety of the evidence, when considered cumulatively, as required, satisfies me beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Allen is guilty of the three offences charged in the indictment relating to the cocaine in the box,” Stribopoulos found.
As for the 303 grams of cocaine found in Allen’s home, Stribopoulos had to find Allen not guilty of possession with intent to traffic it. In part because police did not forensically examine the cocaine for fingerprints or DNA.
Of note the cocaine in the home was found in a drop ceiling in the basement of the house. As a result Stribopoulos found that “the fact that Mr. Allen lived at the residence is not alone sufficient to prove he had control over, and knowledge of the cocaine found in the basement’s drop ceiling, the essential elements for establishing possession.”
Thus Allen was found not guilty of possession with intent to traffic the cocaine found in his home.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising