FRESNO, CA -- United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony Williams announced that on Monday, Jasdev “Jesse” Singh, 35, an automotive repair business owner in Bakersfield, was sentenced to seven years in prison, ordered to forfeit $1,011,067 in cash, and fined $2,000 for drug trafficking.
This case was the product of an extensive Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Bakersfield DEA Resident Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Kern County Sheriff’s Office, and Bakersfield Police Department. The Toronto North Drug Section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Illinois State Police, Jasper County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Department, Merced Police Department, and Livingston Police Department also assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.
According to court documents, Singh and co-defendants Harjeet Mann, 52, and Sukhraj Dhaliwal, 41, both of Bakersfield, negotiated with an undercover agent to buy 70 kilograms of cocaine. During the negotiations, and in Singh’s presence, Mann indicated that between 2003 and 2008 he had shipped approximately 36,000 kilograms of cocaine from Bakersfield to the Toronto area through his Canadian trucking business, Star Leaf Truck Lines. The cocaine was then distributed to Asian gang members in Toronto. On June 5, 2009, Singh entered a guilty plea to his involvement in the conspiracy. Several months later, he sent a letter to the Bakersfield Californian apologizing to the people of Bakersfield for his conduct. Senior U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger considered Singh’s remorse, as well as his parents’ disabilities in sentencing.
Singh’s co-defendants went to trial and were found guilty on June 25, 2009. The trial evidence indicated that Mann, Dhaliwal, and a third co-conspirator, Gurmeet Singh Bisla, 30, of Livingston, conspired to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least 202 kilograms of cocaine. Mann received a prison sentence of 23.5 years and Dhaliwal was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Bisla later claimed he was mentally incompetent and has since been remanded to the custody of the Attorney General for a mental evaluation and treatment. He will be sentenced if and when he is rendered competent.
The case has received extensive coverage in the Asian and Canadian press, which reported that Mann and Singh, natives of the Punjabi village of Gureh, and Dhaliwal, from the neighboring village of Chimna, are considered modern day Robin Hoods in their villages stemming from their drug-funded philanthropy. At Mann’s sentencing, Judge Wanger commented that such philanthropy was both “noble” and “ignoble,” noting that the defendants used the wrong means to accomplish good deeds.