Canadian Man Sentenced in Case Involving Largest Seizure of Cocaine in District History
BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Michael Bagri, 54, a citizen of Canada, who was convicted conspiracy to export five kilograms or more of cocaine from the United States into Canada, was sentenced to 70 months in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.
“Because Twenty First century criminals do not respect international borders, law enforcement must work with those from other nations in order to fully protect the homeland,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This case stands as a model of what is possible when police and prosecutors do just that.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who handled the case, stated that on September 8, 2010, Bagri’s co-defendant, Ravinder Arora attempted to cross the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge from the United States into Canada. An outbound inspection of Arora's tractor-trailer revealed a hidden compartment underneath the floor. Inside, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers and Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, found approximately 97 kilograms (over 200 pounds) of cocaine. This amount, valued at approximately $3.6 million dollars, represents one of the largest seizures ever in the Western District of New York.
The investigation revealed that Bagri packed the 97 kilograms of cocaine into the hidden compartment at a warehouse located in California, with the trailer and the cocaine ultimately transported across the United States to Canada, via the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. In early May 2011, the defendant traveled from Buffalo, New York to California, where he loaded another tractor-trailer with approximately 26 kilograms (over fifty pounds) of cocaine. This cocaine was then transported across the United States before being seized by federal agents outside of Geneva, New York.
The defendant admitted to packing cocaine in tractor-trailers on nine additional occasions. The total amount of cocaine involved in these smuggling trips exceeded 1,600 kilograms (over three and one-half tons).
Co-defendant Ravinder Arora was sentenced to 84 monhs in prison in May 2014. Another co-defendant Parminder Sidhu has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.The sentencing is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero, Officers from the United States Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Randy Howe, Director of Field Operations, the Peel Regional Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jennifer Evans, the Canada Border Services Agency, under the direction of Rick Comerford, Regional Director General, Southern Ontario Region and the Toronto Police, under the direction of Chief William Blair.