Man cleared in drug bust

Man Cleared in Drug Bust

A Mexican man charged in connection with the largest cocaine bust in Calgary’s history was found not guilty in Court of Queen’s Bench Friday.

The accused, 29, will now deal with Canadian Immigration officials in his quest to return to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after Justice Scott Brooker acquitted him on a charge of importation of cocaine and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

Brooker ruled the Crown failed in its attempt to link the accused to the illicit drugs seized from the luggage of another Mexican couple who arrived on an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex., in September 2000.

“I have considered all of the evidence in its totality . . . and am still left with a reasonable doubt of his guilt,” said Brooker immediately before handing down his decision.

He added that many suspicious circumstances were present in the case, mostly due to the accused’s own actions.

The accused was arrested after Canada customs agents grew suspicious of his anxious behaviour while waiting at the Calgary International Airport for the arrival of a “friend” on the same day Evelia Robles-Barreto and Ricardo Rangel Corona were found to have more than 60 kilograms of cocaine packaged and hidden in three suitcases.

When RCMP questioned him a second time, the accused said he was waiting for his mother. A third questioning saw the accused say he was waiting for his mother, wife and children and that his mother was having laser eye surgery in Canada.

During the trial, the Crown tried to prove that the accused was the “greeter” in the attempt to smuggle the cocaine into Canada.

He had reserved a room at the Delta Airport Hotel in Ricardo Rangel’s name and was carrying a blue bag with Ricardo Rangel’s name on the luggage identification tag.

But defence lawyer Pat Fagan argued there was “a lot of dope, no evidence.”

Fagan said no evidence existed proving the accused was involved in the smuggling of drugs into the country and there was no evidence connecting his client to the two “drug couriers.”

Outside of the courtroom Friday, Fagan said his client is both relieved with the outcome and anxious to return to Mexico.

“I can tell you this, the RCMP kept $25 million worth of cocaine off the streets and I managed to secure a not guilty plea for my client — justice has been done in spades,” said Fagan.

Rangel Corona is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to importing drugs, while charges against Robles were dropped.

Patrick Fagan

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