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Canadian man pleads guilty in connection with $120 million cocaine smuggling


BUFFALO -- Harinder Dhaliwal, 47, of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export from the United States five kilograms or more of cocaine before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, stated that between 2006 and May 2011, Dhaliwal conspired with others to smuggle cocaine into Canada from the United States and marijuana and ecstasy into the United States from Canada via several international bridges including those in the Buffalo-Niagara region. As part of his plea agreement, Dhaliwal admitted to being part of an international conspiracy that trafficked more than 3,000 kilograms of cocaine, most of it through the Western District of New York, worth an estimated $120,000,000.

Through the course of the investigation, United States law enforcement officers recovered a combined 230 kilograms of cocaine. Of that amount, 123 kilograms of cocaine, which represents the largest seizure arising from a single investigation in the District’s history, were obtained through two separate seizures occurring at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and in Geneva, NY.  The remaining 107 kilograms were seized in California.

Also charged in the conspiracy were Ravinder Arora, Michael Bagri, Parminder Sidhu, Alvin Randhawa, Gursharan Singh, and Huy Hoang Nguyen. All defendants have been convicted.

The defendants utilized tractor-trailers that contained false compartments within the floor of tractor-trailers. Dhaliwal and others purchased steel tubing, kick plates and other supplies to fabricate the false compartments in several tractor-trailers. In addition to cocaine, the tractor-trailers were used to transport ecstasy and hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the United States from Canada. Drug ledgers seized during the investigation detailed approximately a dozen smuggling trips, during late 2009 to September 2010, involving approximately 1,617 kilograms of cocaine being transported from the United States, through the Western District of New York, into Canada.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 16.