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Cocaine courier sentenced to three years

A Kamloops man who was rounded up as part of an investigation into an alleged Prince George drug trafficker was sentenced Jan. 20 to three years in prison.
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A Kamloops man who was rounded up as part of an investigation into an alleged Prince George drug trafficker was sentenced Jan. 20 to three years in prison.

Ravneet Singh Basi, 46, was among four people arrested in June 2016 following a 14-month RCMP investigation of Fabian Fraser Cuthbert, 47, who police suspect is being a mid-level dealer this city.

During a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George on Monday, Basi was described as a "trusted intermediary and courier" to Cuthbert in the three months leading up to his arrest.

By that time, police had gathered enough evidence to obtain authority to "wire up" an apartment in Chilliwack that Cuthbert owned with covert audio and video recording devices and to intercept communications between Cuthbert, Basi and co-accused Tijinder Sidhu, 49, of Richmond.

On the day of the arrests, Basi picked up a kilogram of cocaine from Sidhu and delivered it to the apartment. Shortly after driving away, he was arrested and during a subsequent search, RCMP found a black garbage bag containing $50,540 - the money Cuthbert paid for the cocaine - and another $1,500 in $20 bills on Basi - his share for making the delivery.

It also appeared those involved were aware of the surveillance. The exchange was made in the apartment's bathroom and away from the recording devices and the cocaine was later found hidden in the dryer, the court was told.

Basi, Sidhu, Cuthbert and Cuthbert's mother, Katherine Pearl Cuthbert, 75, were arrested. Charges against Katherine Cuthbert were later dropped.

During the hearing, Basi was described as a "people pleaser" who had a hard time saying no and had agreed to do Sidhu a favour. Up until pleading guilty to two counts of trafficking, he had no criminal record and until Monday, continued to hold down a job as an auto parts salesman, earning about $3,000 per month.

In agreeing to a joint submission from Crown and defence counsels, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale said Basi did not fit the type and found Basi's case "quite perplexing as to how he got involved in this type of endeavour." But he also said the offences are "extremely serious" and warranted a sentence of two to four years for a first-time offender.

In November, Sidhu was also sentenced to three years in prison and, in the process, described in similar terms. Cuthbert's case remains before the court.