Police in British Columbia are asking Interpol to post a red notice for the arrest and return of a Surrey man who escaped to India after being convicted of smuggling cocaine into Canada from the United States.
Truck driver Raj Kumar Mehmi, 60, was sentenced in absentia by a B.C. provincial court judge to 15 years in prison in November after his arrest in 2017 for smuggling 80 kilograms of cocaine.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge found Mehmi guilty of importation of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking in September 2022.
He was to be sentenced next month, but RCMP say the man boarded a flight from Vancouver to New Delhi a month after he was convicted.
A red notice asks member countries to help locate, arrest and extradite a person to face criminal charges, and India is a member of Interpol.
Canada-wide warrant issued
Arash Seyed, a spokesman with RCMP federal serious and organized crime division, said a Canada-wide warrant has also been issued for Mehmi.
“If you locate this suspect or have information regarding his whereabouts, please do not approach him and contact your local police agency,” Seyed told a news conference announcing the warrant in Surrey on Wednesday.
The Canada Border Services Agency said Mehmi’s truck was stopped while he was at the Pacific Highway border crossing into Metro Vancouver.
The agency’s Pacific region director Holly Stoner said Mehmi’s truck was randomly selected for a secondary examination, and it was during the more detailed search when the drugs were discovered.
80 bricks of cocaine
“During their search, CBSA officers found 80 bricks of cocaine inside the sleeper cab of the commercial vehicle,” Stoner said. “The driver was arrested and taken into custody.”
Seyed said the RCMP seized Mehmi’s passport after his arrest, but the man appeared to have received a second version of the document from Passport Canada to allow his escape.
“There are certain conditions where an individual may be granted a passport, such as emergency situations,” Seyed said.
Police said they are seeking the Interpol notice “as a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest” the man pending extradition or other legal actions.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2023.
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