Date: March 23, 2008
Cruise Bruise: Arrest
Bruise Location: Rome
Home Town: British Columbia, Canada
Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Lines
Ship: Norwegian Dawn
Details: When two GMC Suburbans loaded with $7 million in cocaine were stopped October 25, 2007 on the U.S. side of the border in Washington state, Canadian police seized the drugs, three handguns and ammunition.
Canadian and American police identified the leader of an international drug cartel as Charles Lai, who was not in either vehicle during the stop. But, law enforcement say Lai was running an organized crime operation between Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean, while living in a $1.5 million home in Shaughnessy, BC Canada.
A Seattle, Washington grand jury indicted Lai March 20, 2008 for conspiracy to export cocaine, conspiracy to import marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Sunday, March 23, 2008 Lai was pulled off a cruise ship after it pulled into the Port Of Miami, in Florida.
"They went on the ship and knocked on his door and arrested him in his underwear," U.S. Attorney Douglas Whalley said.
Whalley said Lai is believed to have arranged a 228-kilogram shipment of cocaine intercepted after it was transported across the Canadian border October 25, 2007.
He said the volume of cocaine involved suggests the case is linked to organized crime, but that all Lai's connections are not yet known.
Baljinder Kandola, a 35-year-old Surrey resident and a border guard for six years, faces six criminal charges: importing cocaine into Canada, conspiracy to import cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking, importing a restricted firearm, breach of trust and bribery.
Shminder Johal, 34, and Herman Riar, 26, both of Richmond were each charged with importing cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking, conspiracy to import cocaine and importing a restricted firearm.
The RCMP said investigators later found $200,000 in Johal's residence.
Update March 17, 2009
The U.S. Department of Justice says Charles Lai, 43, has admitted to trafficking cocaine and firearms that were seized at the Canadian border in October 2007.
Lai was arrested in March 2008 on Norwegian Dawn, docked in Miami, Florida, facing a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
But Lai reached a plea agreement and will instead be sentenced to between 12 and 15 years in prison. He also agreed to forfeit $250,000.