UPDATED: On BC Bud, Cocaine, and Balbir Dhami

UPDATED 5/23/11: This post has garnered renewed attention after the recent murder of Balbir Dhami. The Sacramento police does not believe it is a hate-crime and do to the circumstances, most in the community do not believe so either. I won’t make speculations, but will leave it to the law enforcement officials to sort out the case.

Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) sent their agents to capture an Elk Grove man.

Balbir Dhami truckers.jpg[click on the link to see the news video], the owner of Dhami Trucking Plaza on Stockton Blvd in Elk Grove, was arrested and is accused of being at the center of a drug running business, moving marijuana and cocaine, between Canada, Elk Grove, and Los Angeles.

The news describes Dhami as a prominent Elk Grove business man and leader in the Sikh community. While I dont know if he was a prominent business man or even a leader in the Sikh community, from internet searches, he does seem to have made political overtures as campaign finance records show that he donated to Democrat Dick Gephardts presidential campaign in early 2004.



His family has denied his involvement:

I know my dad. What he’s being blamed for in the allegations it’s totally against our religion. It’s something he’s against and wouldn’t recommend anyone else to do something like that, explains Aman Dhami [Balbirs son]. [link]

While I cannot speak on Dhamis specific case, I can speak about this being a common problem within the Punjabi Sikh community.

Many of us have relatives and friends in the transport industry. Drive along Highway 99 or Interstate 5 in California and youll see plenty of Khandas on big rigs. In fact Guddu Bhogal has a song called Yaaran da truck that captures some of the images and lifestyle of our trucker brothers.

The majority is extremely hard-working, honest, and their accomplishments are a matter of pride for the entire community. Their work is difficult, long, and lonely. They are often at the forefront and problems faced by the community. Whether it be government-encouraged discrimination and racism by their fellow truck drivers, fighting to wear their pagris (turbans) while on the jobs and in ports, or even for the ability to unionize against shady companies that underpay them and provide no benefits or securities, they are determined, tenacious, and brave in trying to better the lives of their family.

However, there are a few that do try to make money the easy way. Some might even claim it is the American way, but it definitely is not the Sikh way. Members of our community are involved in drug running throughout the United States and Canada.

The supply generally works as follows: BC bud (marijuana) has a particularly potent reputation and is relatively cheap in Canadian British Columbia. BC bud has become a brand name and is grown locally in British Columbia. Many Punjabi Sikhs are involved in drug running, but mainly at a lower level as the much more profitable heroine trade has been cornered by older Chinese syndicates. Punjabi Sikhs use their relatives and family networks in the transportation industry to move the marijuana and money to various hubs, especially California. Marijuana is sold and distributed in California for large profits and then used to purchase guns and cocaine. Cocaine from transit points such as Los Angeles fetch a high profit back in Canada. Again the friends and family networks in the transportation industry move the products back up to Canada for distribution and sale there.

The temptation for truck drivers to take the illicit cargo is huge. Sometimes people get paid up to $50,000 a load to hide the cargo as they cross the Canadian-US border. Anecdotally, I have met a number of individuals that have claimed to have made huge sums of money in this manner. Also anecdotally, Punjabi friends that work at popular banks such as Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Bank of the West, etc. have told me numerous times where other Punjabis have approached them to make unreported large scale deposits. All cash deposits exceeding $10,000 are recorded. In fact if you have family members, relatives, or friends in this industry and if you see unexplained sudden cash splurges on cars, houses, and other luxury items, this may have been the means for that wealth.

While there may be bigger structural conversations on consumerist culture and capitalism gone rampant that might explain the reasons for taking these risks, regardless it is a huge concern in our community and deserves some spotlight and attention. Any thoughts, solutions, or your own experiences?

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66 Responses to “UPDATED: On BC Bud, Cocaine, and Balbir Dhami”

  1. Sing is King says:

    no this is in regards to the shooting involving Dhamis only son.

  2. Sing is King says:

    no this is in regards to the shooting involving Dhamis only son.

  3. I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.