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November 14, 2012

Livingston man gets 16 years in drug case

U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Gurmeet Bisla, 31, of Livingston to 16 years in prison, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Thursday.

A federal jury convicted Bisla two years ago of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of cocaine, but sentencing was delayed after he claimed that he was not competent at trial. Ishii imposed the sentence after two doctors found that Bisla was malingering, or falsifying symptoms of diminished mental capacity.

In addition, Ishii ordered the forfeiture of $1,011,068 in seized U.S. currency.

According to evidence presented at trial, Bisla transported drug proceeds for an international cocaine-distribution ring led by Harjeet Mann, 53, of Bakersfield and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Mann and Sukhraj Dhaliwal, 43, of Bakersfield also were found guilty of drug conspiracy and cocaine trafficking.

The defendants primarily used big rigs to transport the drug. Agents seized large amounts of money, including $169,910 seized from a truck in Sheldon, Ill., that was driven by Bisla.

The case culminated with the seizure of nearly $845,000 in a reverse sting operation conducted by the Bakersfield DEA and the Kern County sheriff's office.

Mann was sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison, and Dhaliwal was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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