An Aldergrove man has been convicted of taking money to help people cross into Canada illegally.
Joga Singh Badwal, who lived near the Aldergrove border crossing on 264 Street in Langley while he was being investigated, was acquitted on one charge of human smuggling that he did “knowingly organize, induce, aid or abet” the illegal entry into Canada of 10 persons and found guilty of a lesser charge that he did “knowingly induce, aid or abet, or attempt to induce, aid or abet” the entry of the 10 without appearing before an officer at a port of entry.
The June 15 written decision by Justice Jennifer M.I. Duncan notes that Badwal said he has been bringing people into Canada for about 30 years.
The judgment, just posted to the B.C. Supreme Court website, describes how Badwal was the target of an RCMP Border Integrity Unit investigation between May 2011 and October 2012 involving undercover officers who cannot be identified by court order. According to the judgment, the negotiations to bring people into Canada illegally were conducted at Badwal’s home “which also served as a temple” near 264 Street and 3 Avenue in Aldergrove.
Badwal was paid $3,000 to $4,000 per person, usually in Canadian funds, to have people driven to an area on the US side of the border along Zero Avenue where they crossed on foot into Canada. From there the people were picked up by drivers arranged by Badwal and “dropped off at locations several miles north of the border.”
While Badwal was charged in the fall of 2012, his trial was delayed because of another case involving a constitutional challenge of the law against human smuggling that ended with a 2015 ruling that the law, as written, was “unconstitutionally broad” and should not be applied to people who were assisting family members or providing humanitarian or mutual aid to undocumented migrants seeking to enter Canada.
The Badwal trial began in March of this year.
The court heard how Badwal charged about $3,000 to $4,000 Canadian per person to get people into Canada, with the understanding that he would be paid half up front and the other half when the people were delivered.
“He recommended they not carry anything, especially not backpacks, as border guards were more focused on drugs coming across than people.”
In one instance described in court, those entering the country met in the parking lot of a Costco on Guide Meridian where they were driven the Canadian border along Zero Avenue. They got out and ran across into Canada where a second vehicle drove them to their destination.
The judgment said Badwal used “pay as you go” phones because he was concerned about police “tapping” his phone. He “was savvy about where cameras and sensors were placed along Zero Avenue,” the judge said. “He knew when there were extra officers placed to patrol the border.”
Badwal said he had been transporting people back and forth for 30 years and had stepped back from doing the driving himself, which the judge said was “ an obvious attempt to cool his profile with border authorities.”
“I have found that I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew he was assisting smugglers in their operation,” the judge declared.
“I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that his agreement included a belief that the passengers lacked the requisite documents, whatever they are, on this record.”
Badwal was expected to be sentenced later this year.