Accused was ‘wilfully blind,’ RCMP officer suggested
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.