On the Run: Canada’s Manhunt for Cocaine Smuggling Mastermind

by Manjari Singh

In a startling turn of events, a Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for a 60-year-old Sikh truck driver, Raj Kumar Mehmi, who fled to India after being sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in a significant drug trafficking operation. Mehmi, hailing from Surrey, British Columbia, was convicted in absentia after evading justice by leaving the country.

The case dates back to November 6, 2017, when Mehmi was initially arrested by the British Columbia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) after the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) discovered a staggering 80 kg of cocaine hidden within the semi-trailer truck he was driving. The estimated street value of the seized cocaine was a whopping $3.2 million, highlighting the magnitude of the illicit operation.

Charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) were filed against Mehmi, including Importation of a Controlled Substance (Section 6 (1) CDSA) and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Section 5 (2) CDSA). Following a guilty verdict on both charges by a Supreme Court Judge on September 6, 2022, a sentencing hearing was scheduled for January 9, 2023.

However, the situation took a dramatic turn on October 11, 2022, when Mehmi managed to flee to India. Boarding a flight from Vancouver, he arrived in New Delhi the following day, eluding authorities and leaving law enforcement agencies scrambling to locate him.

With Mehmi absent from his own sentencing, an application to sentence him in absentia was filed and granted on September 15, 2023. On November 16, 2023, the Surrey Provincial Court of British Columbia sentenced Mehmi for importing drugs and their possession, marking a rare instance of justice being served in the absence of the convicted.

Complicating matters further, it has been revealed that Mehmi’s Canadian passport was seized at the time of his initial arrest. However, taking advantage of the significant time gap between his arrest and conviction, he legally obtained another passport through Passport Canada, which he used to facilitate his escape, as reported by CTV News, citing an RCMP spokesperson.

Described as approximately 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, Mehmi is now the subject of an Interpol Red Notice, soliciting global cooperation to locate and provisionally arrest him pending extradition or similar legal action. Authorities have cautioned the public not to approach Mehmi but to contact their local police agency if they have any information regarding his whereabouts.

Manjari Singh

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