Home Truck News Innocent driver pays price for drug charges - Truck News

Innocent driver pays price for drug charges – Truck News

Drivers beware! The sealed trailer you hooked on to the truck could be a loaded with trouble.

Zenon Bialkowski, 70, is an example of how a trucker’s life can change for the worse despite doing their job professionally and by the book.

The award-winning driver was arrested, detained and charged with attempting to smuggle 188 bricks of suspected cocaine into Canada.

Picture of Zenon Bialkowski
Zenon Bialkowski (Photo: Leo Barros)

Bialkowski made the news in October 2022 when Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward, Ont., discovered the suspected drugs in the trailer he was hauling.

A little over a year later in December 2023, the Crown dropped all charges against him. Bialkowski continues to pay the price.

Health affected

The incident has taken a toll on his health and finances. He has stomach and rheumatic issues. “The doctor said it is due to stress, he told me to try and relax. Psychologically this is not good for me,” Bialkowski said.

He paid his defence lawyer $34,000 in fees. And he’s not worked since he was detained. In 2020, the longhaul driver had won a one-million-mile safe driving award while working for Landstar System.

Trouble was brewing but Bialkowski didn’t know it when he was instructed to pick up a hazmat load in Laredo, Tex., headed for Mississauga, Ont. It was a simple drop and hook – drop off an empty trailer, hook on to a loaded one, and drive away.

The driver, working for an owner-operator contracted to Landstar System, arrived at the facility in the evening of Oct. 13.

After dropping the empty trailer, he located the sealed pre-loaded trailer. “I checked the seals on the loaded trailer and took pictures as usual,” he said.

What he did not notice on the paperwork is that the freight arrived on one trailer from Mexico and was transferred to another trailer. His daughter noticed this much later. Someone had access to the freight during that time, he said.

Bialkowski did notice wrong placards were attached to the trailer and he put the proper ones on. While leaving the facility, the trailer was inspected by a guard.

The trip to the Canadian border was interrupted by a drive tire that needed replacing in Memphis, Tenn., which took about eight hours. While driving to Canada, the broker informed Bialkowski that the customer in Mississauga was busy and freight had to be delivered to Montreal within the same timeframe.

Delivery location changed

A stressed-out Bialkowski told the broker that the additional 500-plus kilometers of driving meant that he would not be able to deliver the load on time.

He arrived at the Canadian border post in a disturbed frame of mind. “The only thought in my mind was how was I going to deliver the load the next morning on time?”

The CBSA officer directed Bialkowski to the secondary inspection area. After X-rays were taken, irregularities were found in the load. He was asked to back his trailer into a dock and the freight was unloaded. The drugs were found between boxes of freight in the middle of the trailer.

Suspected cocaine found in a truck at an Ontario border post.
Canada Border Services Agency officers discovered 188 bricks of suspected cocaine in the trailer Zenon Bialkowski was hauling into Canada in 2022. (File photo: CBSA)

“They came and handcuffed me, saying I was smuggling drugs,” he said. After spending a few hours in a cold cell, RCMP officers transferred him to an even colder cell at the Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Petrolia, Ont.

The next afternoon he was transferred to the Sarnia jail. After spending about a month in custody, he was freed on bail. His daughter provided $50,000 cash and $100,000 surety against her home. He lived under house arrest with his daughter and her husband.

Criminal record not cleared

He has his medicals coming up next week. He is not sure if he will return behind the wheel. Bialkowski is still waiting to clear his criminal record. His lawyer told him it will take time.

Presently, Bialkowski lives with his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. “She is feeding me,” he said. “She doesn’t want me to go back on the road.”

He keeps busy fixing things around the house and is learning computer programming. With his life turned upside down, he hopes his story will serve as a cautionary tale.

“Seals mean nothing. I did everything by the book and still got into trouble. How can you avoid this? I drove for 20 years and nothing like this happened.”


Credit: Source link

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