There was a beefed-up border security presence — including a sniffer dog and agents with mirrors under his vehicle — but a Detroit man with Windsor family ties thought it was all just part of a random customs inspection on the American side of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel.
Pulled over into secondary inspection and shown photos of the thousands of ecstasy (MDMA) pills recovered from various hidey-holes in his Oldsmobile, Nikola Kakish played dumb, claiming he must be the innocent victim of some criminal drug-trafficking enterprise.
But now, Kakish is the main prosecution witness testifying against Khaophone Sychantha in a drug export conspiracy trial that began Tuesday in Superior Court in Windsor.
Portraying himself as a border-crossing mule for Sychantha, Kakish described previous trips in which his vehicle, “stuffed” with drugs at Sychantha’s Essex County home, would cross the border before being unloaded by armed men in Detroit and then, on one occasion, returning to Canada with vacuum-packed bundles of cash.
The border bust was more than eight years ago, but the trial had to wait while Sychantha — formerly of Lakeshore and Windsor — remained years on the lam. By the time he was arrested by Montreal police on bike patrol in August 2017, Sychantha was on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Top 10 most-wanted fugitive list, with a US$25,000 bounty on his head.