Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/4/2017 (1003 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg man accused in a cross-border drug trafficking case has lost his bid to stop extradition to the United States on the grounds he faces "cruel and unusual" punishment if found guilty.
Kareem Hidara claimed the 10-year mandatory minimum and life in prison maximum he's looking at in Montana is a violation of his Charter rights. He recently asked a Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench judge to deny the American request to send him south to face justice. His lawyers also sought to have his cocaine trafficking charges tossed.
Justice Doug Abra rejected Hidara's bid in a written decision released this week.
"I am not at all satisfied that the sentence that Hidara faces, if he is found guilty, is a breach of principles of fundamental justice or amounts to cruel and unusual punishment," Abra wrote. "He is alleged to have committed a serious offence. If he was found guilty in Canada of the equivalent offence, in view of the quantities of cocaine that he is alleged to have possessed, Hidara would undoubtedly receive a lengthy period of incarceration."
The unusual facts of the case against Hidara were also disclosed publicly for the first time, as news of his arrest was never released by police.
Early in the morning on Oct. 4, 2013, an agent with the United States Border Patrol in Montana spotted a Jeep Grand Cherokee parked at the side of a road near the Canadian border. As the agent approached, the driver turned on the headlights and sped away.
The agent followed but lost the Jeep during a pursuit in what was described as "very rough terrain." However, he spotted Jeep tracks that led into a gully estimated at more than six metres deep. The agent followed the tracks on foot and discovered vehicle parts he believed belonged to the Jeep, including a fender and two front panels.
He also found five vacuum-sealed bags with a white powdery substance inside. As he continued tracking the tire marks, heading north to the border, he eventually found the Jeep abandoned in the gully. Four similar packages were found inside the vehicle.
There were no plates attached to the Jeep, but Manitoba plates were found inside, on the floor; they would later be traced to Hidara. The agent also found Hidara's insurance papers inside the glove compartment, along with a rental agreement in Hidara's name from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Winnipeg.
Police later obtained surveillance video from a gas station in nearby Shelby, Mont., that showed a man matching Hidara's description fuelling up earlier that evening.
A few hours later, a ranch owner in southern Alberta called RCMP about a suspicious man she spotted standing on a bridge near the town of Milk River, about 15 kilometres north of the American border. RCMP had been alerted by Montana authorities and quickly arrested Hidara without incident.
He had the Jeep's keys and his passport.
Forensic testing revealed the nine packages — five in the gully and four in the Jeep — contained cocaine. The total weight was nearly nine kilograms, which authorities say far exceeds what could be considered for personal use and is indicative of a drug courier.
"The evidence is overwhelming," Abra said in his written decision summarizing the case against Hidara. The strength of a case is one of the factors that must be considered in an extradition request.
Hidara has been free on bail in Canada since shortly after his arrest, but Abra's ruling has now put him back in custody. However, Abra said the extradition must be on hold for at least 30 days to allow Hidara time to file an appeal if he chooses.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.