Judge frees cocaine case suspect
The suspected “greeter” in the biggest cocaine bust in Alberta history walked away from a Calgary courtroom yesterday a free man.
Justice Scott Brooker ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove the accused was waiting at Calgary International Airport for a drug-smuggling couple.
“I’m very happy for (being) free to go,” the accused, who lives in Puerto Valletta, told the Sun in an exclusive interview.
“Now my next step is to try to go home,” he said outside court following Brooker’s decision. Brooker agreed with defence lawyer Patrick Fagan’s contention that the case against the accused amounted to “a lot of dope, no evidence.
The accused, 29, was arrested after a Mexican couple were nabbed by customs officers on Sept. 2, 2000, trying to bring more than 60kg of cocaine into Canada.
Booked hotel room: The fact the accused had booked a hotel room for them at the Delta Airport didn’t mean he knew about their contraband, Brooker said.
Brooker did say the accused was likely there to take the drugs from Ricardo Corona (also known as Rangel) and his wife, Evelia Robles.
“I think that it is probable .. the accused was there to receive the cocaine from Rangel and Robles once they cleared customs,” Brooker said.
But he said the circumstantial evidence called by Crown prosecutor Dan Misutka didn’t point to the accused’s guilt as the only plausible explanation.
For example, the judge said, the presence of Rangel’s name on a piece of paper in the accused’s possession was consistent with his explanation about booking the couple a room. The accused told police he got a call from Mexico while at the airport waiting for his mom to arrive asking to arrange for accommodations.
Logical explanation: Brooker said it was logical the name would be written on the “handiest piece of paper” if the accused got the call as he described.
The shipment seized when customs officers became suspicious of Robles and Corona’s arrival was worth about $5 million if sold by the gram.
Patrick C. Fagan is a highly accomplished lawyer with an impressive career spanning over 35 years in the legal field.