A trucker arrested at the U.S. border with 166 kilos of cocaine in December 2019 alleges that he had been offered “extra work.”
The U.S. government has asked Canada to extradite the part-owner of a long-haul trucking company based in the Laurentians to face charges alleging he co-ordinated efforts to smuggle more than 400 kilograms of cocaine into Canada.
Guillaume Latour-Laitre, 25, was recently arrested by the RCMP on a request from authorities in the United States. The process seeking to have him extradited began at the Montreal courthouse on Friday.
His case is related to how, on Dec. 7, 2019, Jason Nelson, a trucker from Kanesatake, was arrested by U.S. border patrol agents after he tried to enter Canada at the border crossing in Derby Line, Vt. He claimed his truck was empty, but the vehicle had been red-flagged two days before when a dog trained to detect narcotics reacted to a custom-made compartment that turned out to be empty as Nelson entered the U.S. at a border crossing in Ontario.
A different dog found 166 kilograms of cocaine inside the same compartment as Nelson tried to enter at the Derby Line crossing.
Last year, Nelson pleaded guilty, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, to having conspired to distribute and posses with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He has yet to be sentenced and, according to court records, on Sept. 15, lawyers in the case agreed to a 60-day delay for his sentencing hearing.
An affidavit filed in the extradition case reveals Nelson supplied information alleging Latour-Laitre co-ordinated the cocaine shipment Nelson was caught with, as well as two previous shipments that crossed into Canada undetected at the border during November 2019.
Nelson, identified as “Witness A” in the affidavit, told investigators he met Latour-Laitre in October 2019, when he applied for a job with Latour-Laitre’s company Tram-Sport, based in Wentworth Nord. Latour-Laitre is currently listed as the company’s vice-president and secondary shareholder on Quebec’s business registry.
After working with Tram-Sport for a short period of time, Nelson told investigators, Latour-Laitre asked if he was willing to do “extra work.” Nelson, a citizen of both Canada and the U.S., said he assumed his boss was referring to contraband tobacco. But Latour-Laitre allegedly offered to pay Nelson $250 for every kilo of cocaine he smuggled into Canada.
The affidavit details how Nelson alleged that he picked up two shipments of cocaine, during November 2019, at a scrapyard in Pennsylvania and made it across the border. He told investigators he didn’t actually see the shipments, but assumed the first load was 200 kilograms and the second was 80 based on how much he was paid.
He also told investigators he left his truck at a yard run by Tram-Sport in Stanstead so it could be unloaded both times that he crossed the border successfully.
Latour-Laitre’s extradition case at the Montreal courthouse returns to court on Friday.