Three Canadian citizens are being held in Seattle after being arrested while allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine across the U.S./Canadian border in east Blaine.
Homeland security agents arrested two men and one woman near the Smuggler’s Inn Bed and Breakfast after a plan to smuggle approximately 23 pounds of cocaine into Canada was interrupted. If convicted, all three face a minimum of 10 years in prison.
According to a complaint filed by homeland security agent Joshua Barnett in federal district court in Seattle on December 16, homeland security agents received information from a confidential informant that a smuggling operation was likely to take place on the evening of December 15, 2011, near the Smuggler’s Inn. The inn is less than 100 feet from the U.S./Canadian border.
At about 8 p.m. on December 15, Barnett and other law enforcement agents saw a black GMC Yukon arrive at the inn. Bob Boule, owner of Smuggler’s Inn, was driving the SUV with a man and the woman in the vehicle, Barnett wrote in court documents. The woman was later identified as Jasmin Klair, while the man was a guest at the inn.
“Klair is a Canadian citizen, and she appeared to be very nervous and agitated when I asked her basic questions about her identity,” Barnett wrote. “I asked her if the large, white box located in the back of the Yukon belonged to her. Initially, Klair stated the box was not hers.”
After Barnett asked the others in the SUV about the box, Klair admitted it was hers. Barnett took Klair into the inn for further questioning, and after being read her rights Klair said she would fully cooperate with homeland security agents.
With Klair’s permission, Barnett opened the box and found about 23 pounds of a substance field-tested to be cocaine divided into nine bricks. During questioning, Klair received numerous text messages and phone calls from a man she knew as “Jason.”
Klair said she met “Jason” and another man, later identified as Gurjit Singh Sandhu, through a work friend in late November. After initial phone conversations with Sandhu on December 14, Klair said she agreed to transport a duffle bag full of what she understood to be “illicit substances” across the border for $4,000.
On December 15, Klair said she and a man she knew as “Tim” met Sandhu at a Canadian Tire store in Surrey, B.C. Sandhu gave Klair $600 and told her to pay for a room at Smuggler’s Inn. Sandhu also told Klair to pay for the inn’s car service to pick her up in Bellingham and take her to the inn.
Later on December 15, Klair and “Tim” drove into the U.S. through the Peace Arch border crossing to meet a man named “Jay” at a Jack in the Box parking lot in Burlington. Once in Burlington, Klair met “Jay,” who put a large, white box into the trunk of Klair’s car. Klair and “Tim” then drove to the Pizza Hut on Samish Way where Sandhu called Klair, telling her to schedule a ride to Smuggler’s Inn.
At about 6:15 that evening, Boule arrived at the Pizza Hut to pick up “Tim” and Klair. The inn’s owner helped move the large white box from Klair’s car to his SUV and drove the pair to the inn after picking up an uninvolved individual at Bellingham Airport.
Once under arrest at the inn, Klair continued to keep in contact with Sandhu as agents monitored the room she was staying in. Klair put the white box outside the door of her room as agents watched. Klair said Sandhu told her he would come for her and the box and that they would run back across the border together.
At about 11:45 p.m., agents saw a Volkswagen Jetta slow down while driving on 0 Avenue just across the border, about 100 feet away from the inn. Sandhu and a man later identified as Narminder Kaler crossed the border on foot and ran toward Klair’s room. Agents approached the two men as they neared the inn and arrested them after they attempted to run back into Canada.
After being read his rights, Kaler told agents he was going to receive $2,000 for the contents of the box once he was back in Canada. Kaler said he needed the money to pay off a $325,000 debt incurred after losing a 115-pound loaf of cocaine a year and a half ago.