Ac­cused was ‘wil­fully blind,’ RCMP of­fi­cer sug­gested

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL -

The co-owner of a Can­non Street wine store will be back on the stand Tues­day to an­swer ques­tions about his in­volve­ment in a drug im­port­ing scheme that at­tempted to smug­gle more than 100 kilo­grams of co­caine in a pineap­ple juice ship­ment from Costa Rica.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Ge­of­frey Roy will con­tinue his cross-ex­am­i­na­tion of Joe Costa who faces im­port­ing and traf­fick­ing charges with his wife and business part­ner Erika Costa, along with their friend Tul­lio Dintino.

In tes­ti­mony Mon­day, as well as on April 14, Costa stood by his story that he had no idea the ship­ment was car­ry­ing co­caine even though it was de­liv­ered to his Costa’s Wine Coun­try business and he had helped un­load it.

In a video record­ing of an in­ter­view with po­lice played in court, he said he was only help­ing a long­time friend be­cause “I al­ways want to help every­body. It’s just what I am. I help ev­ery­one.” Court pre­vi­ously heard that Cana­dian Bor­der Ser­vices Agency of­fi­cers in Hal­i­fax dis­cov­ered co­caine in some of the jugs in a ship­ping con­tainer on Dec. 18, 2015. Fur­ther tests re­vealed the ship­ment con­tained more than $6 mil­lion worth of co­caine.

The RCMP re­placed co­caine-laced jugs with wa­ter and launched a sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tion to track the ship­ment to its des­ti­na­tion in Hamil­ton.

On video they showed skids be­ing un­loaded from a truck us­ing a fork­lift driven by Joe Costa with Dintino nearby nearly two weeks later, on Dec. 30.

A dif­fer­ent video played Mon­day showed Costa be­ing in­ter­viewed by an RCMP of­fi­cer, who sug­gested Costa was be­ing “wil­fully blind” and “some­thing stinks about this sit­u­a­tion” and per­haps Costa was try­ing “to leave some­thing be­hind for his daugh­ter.”

But Costa said “I’m not in­volved. I de­spise drugs. I’m al­ler­gic to smoke. I’m al­ler­gic to al­co­hol.”

And be­sides, he said, his business was boom­ing with $3 mil­lion to $4 mil­lion a year in sales and had no de­sire to try to make some fast money.

Costa tes­ti­fied he was paid noth­ing to help out Dintino, which in­cluded putting the ship­ment through with his im­porter’s li­cence — some­thing Dintino didn’t have him­self — as well as al­low­ing ware­house space to store the juice.

Joe Costa tes­ti­fied Mon­day.

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