The Washington Times-Herald

Z_CNHI News Service

October 22, 2013

Canadian claims he didn't know bag held $1 million of cocaine

SALEM, Mass. — A Canadian man admitted the arrangement was "shady" but claims he had no idea a large black bag he was delivering contained 11 kilograms - 25 pounds - of cocaine with a street value of $1.1 million.

Jason Grilli testified in Salem Superior Court on Monday that he was being paid $2,500 to pick up a bag at a hotel in Peabody, a Boston suburb, and deliver it to a truck driver in Boston who would bring it back to Canada. He is on trail on charges of conspiracy and cocaine trafficking of more than 200 grams.

Grilli, 40, who lives outside Montreal, testified he thought the bag contained money that a friend named "Benny" wanted to smuggle into Canada without declaring it. Police confronted him with the bag - with the drugs inside - in December 2011.

Attorney Michael Farrell conceded to jurors that Grilli is guilty of conspiracy to commit an unlawful act. But he argued there’s no proof that Grilli knew what was in the bag he was carrying to a rented minivan in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in Peabody.

Farrell repeatedly called Grilli a “two-bit gofer," but prosecutor Gregory Friedholm said the story makes no sense.

Why would organized crime kingpins entrust $1 million to a man claiming to be an unemployed waiter? he asked. Why did Grilli use a fake name found in text messages exchanged among leaders of a drug organization?

“I was desperate. I needed the money,” Grilli testified, adding that he was doing what his friend told him to do.

In June, Gerardo Flores, a former staff sergeant in the Arizona National Guard, was sentenced to three years after admitting to driving from Texas to Peabody to deliver money for the deal. In July, Valentine Munoz-Torres, a Mexican citizen, pleaded guilty to a trafficking charge and received a 12-year sentence.

Julie Manganis writes for The Salem, Mass., News

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Another stumble begs questions about Notre Dame

    Notre Dame's vaunted reputation for formidable athletics and serious academics is again sullied by a cheating scandal. Maybe the high standards of the Fighting Irish are just too good to be true.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Debate filled with 'hate' gives Hamas a pass

    Political invective is dialed to the max, and everyone who disagrees is a "hater." But the hate police, who are so eager to cast labels, are ignoring the real wells of contempt in the Middle East.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg OU player's suspension shows pitfalls of addressing sexual assault on campus

    The University of Oklahoma's leading tackler is suspended for the season - or maybe not. Frank Shannon is still practicing with the Sooners amid a court battle over whether OU can discipline him after a sexual assault investigation. The tough issue of addressing assault on campus isn't just OU's problem.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo