Fake cocaine found in officer's garage
RCMP-controlled cargo of bogus drugs from Peru went missing from airport 12 hours later, court told
Nov 25, 2008 04:30 AM
An RCMP-controlled delivery of 88 boxes containing 146 bricks of fake cocaine arrived at Pearson International Airport from Peru on Nov. 16, 2005.
Incredibly, despite being under surveillance, the shipment went missing about 12 hours later, a Brampton court was told yesterday.
"We had no idea where it was," RCMP Staff Sgt. Kevin Nicholson testified.
Some 15 bricks, including one with a tracking device, were later located at the Cambridge residence of Peel police Const. Sheldon Cook.
Federal prosecutors David Rowcliffe and Ania Weiler contend Cook intercepted the shipment after it left the Air Canada cargo warehouse that night, unaware it was part of an RCMP sting, and hid the bricks at his home.
He has pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges related to the discovery of the dummy cocaine in a storage compartment of a Sea-Doo in his garage.
Cook, 40, is charged with attempt to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, possession of stolen property (MP3 players) from a police investigation and breach of trust as a police officer in connection with the other offences.
The offences were allegedly committed by the 14-year veteran officer between Aug. 7, 2005, and Nov. 18, 2005.
The drugs that vanished were part of an RCMP investigation that had initially involved 147 bricks of real cocaine being replaced with white flour and five tracking devices and audio intercepts before leaving Lima. The drugs were delivered to Canada hidden in the bottom of 88 boxes containing mangoes.
Nicholson said the dummy cocaine was to be delivered under a controlled shipment in order to arrest those at the Canadian end.
RCMP investigators didn't know the identities of the people who were expecting the cocaine in Canada, court heard.
But by the time the fake drugs arrived at the Lima airport, Nicholson noticed there were only 146 bricks – and that 11 had been tampered with because they were filled with cement instead of white flour.
Nicholson explained the civilian agent who was working with Peruvian authorities had stolen the drugs.
Nicholson became aware the drug cargo had disappeared when he received a phone call from Air Canada security on Nov. 16 at about 7 p.m.
The next morning, Nicholson got word that a shipment of drugs had been seized by Peel police, with 44 of the bricks missing.
Eventually, signals from the missing cargo were picked up, one leading to a dumpster in Oakville and the other to Cook's home, Nicholson told the court.
RCMP Sgt. John Roskom, who inserted the tracking devices in the dummy drugs in Peru, said the signal led them to the Sea-Doo in Cook's garage.
Cook remains suspended with pay.