Kabaddi Player Admits Guilt in $1.4 Million Bakersfield Drug Bust
AUG 05 -- FRESNO, Calif.—United States Attorney Lawrence G. Brown and DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony Williams announced today that DAVINDER SINGH, 41, Delta, British Columbia, Canada pleaded guilty to conspiring to purchase and then resell 85 kilograms, or about 187 pounds, of cocaine in Canada.
SINGH is a professional kabaddi player and coach in Canada. Kabaddi is a team sport involving wrestling, popular in India and Bangladesh. SINGH’s guilty plea is the second in the federal prosecution. On June 29, 2009, THAI HOANG NGUYEN, 32, of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy. SOKHA BHOPAL, 50, of Valencia, Calif., and VATH LIM, 34, of El Monte, Calif., are also charged in the conspiracy.
This case is the product of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation by the Bakersfield DEA and Kern County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar, who is prosecuting the case, DEA agents seized over $1.2 million in cash in Bakersfield after SINGH, BHOPAL, LIM, and NGUYEN brought it to a drug deal to pay for 85 kilograms of cocaine. The cash and another $106,806 from an account maintained by BHOPAL are being forfeited as drug proceeds.
SINGH is scheduled for sentencing before Senior United States District Judge Oliver W. Wanger on October 19, 2009. NGUYEN’s sentencing is scheduled for September 14, 2009. BHOPAL and LIM are scheduled to appear again before Judge Wanger on August 31, 2009.
SINGH and NGUYEN face a minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum of life, along with a maximum fine of $4 million. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.
In a similar operation in Bakersfield, the DEA and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office seized over $1 million from Canadian citizens attempting to purchase cocaine for distribution in Canada. HARJEET MANN, SUKHRAJ DHALIWAL, and GURMEET BISLA were found guilty following a three-week jury trial in June 2009. A third defendant, JASDEV SINGH entered a guilty plea before trial. As a result of these two cases, the DEA and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office have seized over $2.4 million in U.S. currency derived from drug sales.
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