Two Abbotsford men have been convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking in connection with a 2009 incident in which they were found in a berry field near four cocaine-filled bags.
Sentencing for Randeep Match, 30, and Manindervir Virk, 23, will take place at a later date in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack.
Justice Brian Joyce found the pair guilty despite there being no direct forensic evidence linking them to the two duffel bags and two backpacks filled with cocaine that had been smuggled across the border.
However, Joyce said during his ruling on Thursday in Chilliwack that the circumstances of the case made it implausible that the drugs could have belonged to anyone else.
The court heard that a pilot of the Air One police helicopter, using a thermal imaging device, spotted three people running through a berry field in the area of Mt. Lehman Road and Zero Avenue – along the U.S.-Canada border. The area is known for border jumpers and is monitored regularly, Joyce said.
He said drug smuggling is also common, and involves “mules” – people paid to transport drugs – from the U.S. delivering the product to someone on the Canadian side. The bags used to carry the drugs are usually painted black.
The Air One pilot saw one of the men run south, while the other two headed north, reaching a property on Huntingdon Road.
An officer on the ground, with a police dog, Diego, was dispatched to the scene. Diego located the four bags, which were filled with 40 bricks of cocaine valued at between $1.4 million and $2 million.
Match and Virk were located in some bushes a distance away. The third person was not located.
Defence lawyers had argued that there was no proof the drugs belonged to the pair. But Joyce said the only other possible explanation would be that, coincidentally, someone else had left the four bags there at around the same time that Match and Virk were running through the berry field.
He said there was no “innocent explanation” for them to be at that location at that time of the night, running from police. The cocaine was in a quantity that would only be used for trafficking, he said.
“The accused were aware of the nature of the contents of the bag, given the circumstances,” Joyce concluded.