They were touted as major victories in the province’s war on drugs, with more than 100 kilograms of cocaine being seized by police during four separate investigations.
Tirath Bal, Gurdarshan Hansra, Kuljinder Dhillon, Alejandro Chung and Andy Koczab all faced the prospect of double-digit stays behind bars if convicted for their alleged roles in bringing an estimated $10 million worth of cocaine into Manitoba.
But all five men are free today after the cases against them collapsed, the result of several different factors that have many in the justice system wondering what message is really being sent.
Are Winnipeg police and RCMP simply not good enough at high-level drug investigations? Is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so restrictive it hampers the ability of investigators to do their jobs? Are Crown attorneys making tactical errors in court? Have defence lawyers become so sharp they can expose every little loophole? Are criminals smarter than ever?
The answer, it would appear, may be all of the above…