On March 1, 2018, Sebastian Zamora, Nicholas Poku, and Chukwuemka Madumelu (together, the “suspects”) were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) in relation to an alleged conspiracy to import and traffic heroin.
 While under RCMP video surveillance and in the presence of undercover officers, Zamora picked up a parcel containing heroin from an airport warehouse. Afterwards, the three suspects met at a restaurant and transported the parcel to an apartment building where they were arrested.
 Zamora is charged with importing heroin contrary to s. 6(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19 (“CDSA”). Both Zamora and Poku are charged with possession of heroin for the purposes of trafficking contrary to s. 5(2) of the CDSA. Madumelu pleaded guilty to importing heroin on April 26, 2019.
 Zamora and Poku appeared before me for their trial. Zamora was represented by counsel while Poku represented himself. The central issue is whether either or both accused knew that the parcel contained a controlled substance….
INVESTIGATION AND ARRESTS
 The 1.347 kg of heroin was concealed in a parcel that arrived on a Pakistan International Airlines flight on February 21, 2018 with a waybill addressed to “Richard Domond.” The parties agree that “Domond” was an alias created and used by Madumelu for the purposes of importing heroin into Canada. The parcel was a large white burlap bag with over twenty low-quality, plastic-wrapped laptop bags inside. Two of the laptop bags had a substance concealed behind their nylon lining.
 The RCMP wanted to attempt a controlled delivery of the parcel to the intended recipient, “Domond.” They seized most of the heroin, reassembled the parcel to appear as though no one had opened it, but left a small amount of heroin concealed inside. On February 28, 2018, an RCMP officer posing as a delivery driver unsuccessfully attempted to deliver the parcel to “Domond” at the address listed by the sender on the parcel and waybill.
 The RCMP then learned that “Domond” had created a one-time account with Livingston International, Inc., a freight brokerage firm, and retained them to facilitate customs clearance and delivery of the parcel. Eventually, an RCMP officer posing as a Livingston employee called the telephone number on the waybill and spoke with Madumelu, who claimed to be “Domond.” Madumelu asked the officer if his cousin could pick the parcel up at the warehouse in Mississauga where it was being stored, and what identification and paperwork his cousin would need. The officer told Madumelu that he would first need to pay the customs and brokerage fees owing to Livingston before the parcel would be released back to the warehouse for pickup. “Domond” paid the required fees on February 27, 2018.
 On March 1, 2018, a Livingston employee emailed “Domond” a letter authorizing a “Sebastian/Richard Domond” to retrieve the parcel from the warehouse. Livingston transferred the parcel to the warehouse and the RCMP laid in wait for whoever was going to show up to claim it. The RCMP set up surveillance cameras and undercover officers posed as warehouse employees.
 On March 1, 2018, just before 5:00 p.m., Zamora and Poku drove into the warehouse parking lot in Zamora’s Chrysler. Zamora got out of the car and entered the warehouse reception area. While he was inside, Poku exited the Chrysler, smoked a cigarette, and then re-entered the vehicle. Inside the warehouse, Zamora spoke to an attendant, presented paperwork, waited for about 15 minutes, entered a loading dock, and bought food from a vending machine. He watched as the parcel was wheeled out on a dolly by an RCMP officer posing as a warehouse employee. Zamora spoke briefly with the RCMP officer, rocked the parcel back and forth, lifted the parcel off the dolly, and carried it through the reception area and out the front doors. He loaded the parcel into the backseat of the Chrysler while Poku remained in the car.
 While still under RCMP surveillance, Zamora and Poku left the warehouse parking lot and drove to a nearby restaurant where they met Madumelu. Zamora and Poku left the parcel in the backseat of the car while they dined. The three suspects exited the restaurant about 20 minutes later and returned to their respective vehicles.
 Zamora and Poku then drove to an apartment complex and parked in front of the entrance. Madumelu drove to the same location via a different route and also parked. Poku and Madumelu took the parcel out of the Chrysler’s backseat and carried it into the building while Zamora waited in the car. Poku and Madumelu rode the elevator to the 19th floor with an undercover RCMP officer. Poku and Madumelu, and the undercover officer all exited the elevator and started to walk down the hall. Madumelu and Poku were arrested and handcuffed by the same officer. Zamora was arrested while waiting in the Chrysler in the parking lot.
BURDEN OF PROOF
 In this case, the central issue is whether the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the mens rea, or mental element of the offence(s), for each accused. That is because both Zamora and Poku concede the actus reus for possession insofar as they had physical control of the parcel containing heroin. While Zamora does not concede that his actions satisfy the actus reus for importing, his counsel agrees that the most contentious issue relates to the mental element of the offence
 The offences of importing heroin and possessing heroin for the purpose of trafficking share a common mental element. For each, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused either knew or was wilfully blind to the fact that the parcel contained heroin or a controlled substance of some kind: see R. v. Rai, 2011 BCCA 341, paras. 1, 17-20; R. v. Sandhu (1989), 50 C.C.C. (3d) 492 (Ont. C.A.), pp. 498-499; R. v. Duffy (1973), 11 C.C.C. (2d) 519 (Ont. C.A.), p. 520; R. v. Blondin (1970), 2 C.C.C. (2d) 118 (B.C.C.A.), pp. 131-132, affirmed in  S.C.J. No. 42 (QL).
 The Crown may prove the mens reas of knowledge by establishing either actual knowledge or wilful blindness: R. v. Briscoe, 2010 SCC 13, para. 21. Wilful blindness is the mindset of an accused who subjectively suspects the existence of the prohibited consequences or circumstances, for example, in this case, suspecting that the parcel contained heroin or some other controlled substance, but who nevertheless decides not to inquire because they would prefer not to know the truth: see Sansregret v. The Queen,  1 S.C.R. 570, pp. 584- 586; Briscoe, paras. 21-24; R. v. Pilgrim, 2017 ONCA 309, para. 66; R. v. Farmer, 2014 ONCA 823, para. 26. Wilful blindness is often described as “equivalent to knowledge” and only available in situations when “it can almost be said that the defendant actually knew”: see Sansregret, at para. 22; R. v. Morrison, 2019 SCC 15, para. 98.
WEIGHING THE EVIDENCE
 The Crown relies on circumstantial evidence to satisfy its burden of proving that Zamora and Poku knew that that the parcel contained heroin. Where proof of the offence depends exclusively or mainly on circumstantial evidence, I may only find an accused guilty if an inference of guilt is the only reasonable inference available to me on the totality of the evidence: R. v. Villaroman, 2016 SCC 33,  1 S.C.R. 1000, para. 30.
 For me to find the accused guilty, the Crown’s case must negate other plausible theories and reasonable possibilities inconsistent with guilt that arise from the evidence or lack of evidence: Villaroman, paras. 30, 35-37. That said, the Crown is not required to negate “every possible conjecture, no matter how irrational or fanciful, which might be consistent with the innocence of the accused”: R. v. Bagshaw,  S.C.R. 2, at p. 8; Villaroman, para. 37. Other plausible theories or reasonable possibilities “must be based on logic and experience applied to the evidence or the absence of evidence, not on speculation”: Villaroman, para. 37. The Supreme Court cautioned that the trier of fact “should not act on alternative interpretations of the circumstances that it considers to be unreasonable; and that alternative inferences must be reasonable, not just possible”: Villaroman, para. 42.
 The distinction between what constitutes a “plausible theory” and what amounts to impermissible “speculation” is not always clear: Villaroman, para. 38. Nevertheless, the "basic question" I must answer "is whether the circumstantial evidence, viewed logically and in light of human experience, is reasonably capable of supporting an inference other than that the accused is guilty": Villaroman, para. 38. Stated differently, "to justify a conviction, the circumstantial evidence, assessed in light of human experience, should be such that it excludes any other reasonable alternative": Villaroman, para. 41. Ultimately, it is for the trier of fact to draw the line to separate reasonable doubt from speculation: Villaroman, para. 71.
 Zamora provided the RCMP with printouts of messages that he exchanged with “Richard Domont” the morning of the pickup. The messages were exchanged through the private messaging function on Kijiji.com (“Kijiji messages”). The RCMP authenticated and timestamped the Kijiji messages: see Zamora.
 The Kijiji messages show that, as of at least February 28, 2018 at 11:02 p.m., Zamora had an active advertisement stating, “Delivery Driver Available.” On the day of the pickup, March 1, 2018 at 9:33 a.m., a Kijiji user asked Zamora if he was available to do a pick up for him “today or tomorrow.” The following exchange took place between Zamora and “Richard D.” on the day between 10:03 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.:
Zamora: Hey I got your email and I can do a pickup today, at some point this afternoon. Im going to need a pickup and drop off location for the delivery and if you have any questions call me at 905-392-6340.
“Richard D”: ok thanks, the pickup will be at 6500 silverdart dr. and the dropoff will be in toronto. i would also need your name. the warehouse will need it for ID. here is my number if you need to call me 4379225277 Richard D
Zamora: Ok Richard thanks. My name is Sebastian and will be there this afternoon
“Richard D.”: Hi Sebastian, i will attach to you some documents you may need and also a letter to authorize you for the pick up. i will also talk to Marie about a release paper, i think she mentioned something like that.
Zamora: Ok I’ll make sure i have it ready when i go for the pickup. Ill need details for the drop off location, just to let you know i charge per km, and based off where the pickup is you’re look at about $1.50 per km travelled
“Richard D.”: hello, i will need you email address to send you the release letter. i will also want to know your charge. Thanks! Richard
Zamora: My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and depending on the drop off location, a trip to toronto should cost about $25-$30 for the trip
“Domond: ok thanks, i will be sending you the release letter to your email that you provided to me.and also the address.
The Email Attachments
 Zamora also showed the RCMP three email attachments that he received from “DOMONDRICHARD@yahoo.com” following the exchange on Kijiji. One email attachment is a freight document that lists the consignee as “Richard Domond” and the contents as “Empty Bags.” The second email attachment is a “Release Notification Report” that lists the importer as “Richard Domond” and states that one 45-kilogram bag was released on February 27, 2018, to the warehouse.
 The third email attachment was a letter dated March 1, 2018 from “Julius Dela Cruz” of Livingston International, Inc. to the warehouse. The letter stated that Livingston was acting as agent for the consignee, “Richard Domond,” and directed the warehouse to: “Please release freight to their appointed carrier: Hold for pickup: Sebastian / Richard Domond.” Mr. Dela Cruz testified that “Domond” asked him to prepare this letter and gave him the name “Sebastian.”
Cell Phone Extraction Report
 The cell phone extract report shows the following:
February 5, 2018
- Madumelu made a note on his phone with the details for the consignee “Richard domond.” He also took a photograph of a piece of paper with extensive personal information for “Richard Domond.”
February 19, 2018
- Poku sent two text messages to Zamora that said:
Poku: Yo chuks wants to know if you are good for tomorrow or Wednesday
Poku: It could be tomorrow it could be Wednesday.
- Zamora did not reply to the February 19th messages.
February 21, 2018
- Poko and Madumelu exchanged the following text messages:
Poku: Did you call or text sebs yesterday
Madumelu: Ya but he never replied
Madumelu: Did his number change?
Poku: Ok he wasn’t sure if it was you
Poku: In will tell him now
Poku: He will reply soon.
February 28, 2018
- Poku sent Zamora the following text message:
Poku: Yo if send me the link for your delivery when u are done I couldn’t find and he want to start on it so it could be done tomorrow.
- About 90 minutes after receiving this message, Zamora visited the Kijiji website, and clicked on “My Ads”, “Post Your Ad,” and “Delivery Driver Available / Moving and Storage / Markham / York Region.”
- Zamora then sent a text message to Poku with a link to a Kijiji ad titled, “Delivery Driver Available.”
- A few minutes after receiving the link, Poku called Madumelu and sent him a link to Zamora’s Kijiji ad. Madumelu promptly texted Poku back and said, “Yo tell him I Will email him tonight.”
March 1, 2018
- Between 10:17 and 10:20 a.m., Poku and Madumelu exchanged the following text messages:
Madumelu: “Make him reply now now.”
Poku: “We dey for work sha he go reply soon lol”
- Between 10:28 a.m. and 12:39 p.m., Madumelu and Poku exchanged the following texts:
Madumelu: “Make him go washroom do am” Poku: “He reply back he said”
Madumelu: “I don’t see anything”
Poku: “He said he sent it.”
Madumelu: “Do you know his last name?”
Poku: “U got it”
Madumelu: “I didn’t get the email”
Madumelu: “He should make sure it’s to me, or even do it again. I need it asap.” Poku: “He did it you he showed me”
Madumelu: “Ok let me check”
Madumelu: “Ok, I see it, it went to spam”
 The co-accused concede that the cell phone extractions are admissible as circumstantial evidence connecting the suspects to one another at specific points in time: R. v. Bridgman, 2017 ONCA 940, paras. 72-77. They also admit that their outgoing text messages and their activities while online are admissible against them as statements against interest: Bridgman, para. 10-11. Finally, incoming text messages are admissible for the truth of their contents if the recipient effectively adopted the statement by way of acknowledgement or reply: Bridgman, para. 69- 70, 79-88.
 The only outstanding issue is whether the Crown can rely on the communications between Madumelu and Poku for the truth of their contents in its case against Zamora. The parties agree that the Crown must satisfy the co- conspirators’ exception to the hearsay rule if it wishes to do so. I consider the exception below.
THE CO-CONSPIRATORS’ EXCEPTION TO THE HEARSAY RULE
 I must apply the three-stage Carter test to determine whether the cell phone extraction report entries engage the co-conspirators’ exception to the hearsay rule: R v. Carter,  1 SCR 938 at pp. 943-44. Carter governs the admissibility of co-conspirators’ acts or statements as evidence against the accused who is alleged to be a member of the conspiracy: R v. Chang, 2003 CanLII 29135 (Ont. C.A.), para. 59; R v. Dawkins, 2021 ONCA 113 (CanLII), paras. 35- 42. If the Carter test is satisfied, absent exceptional circumstances, the Crown does not have to go on to establish the necessity or reliability of the evidence: R. v. Young, 2021 ONCA 535, para. 36.
 In Chang, the Court of Appeal for Ontario set out the three steps as follows at para. 53:
- The trier of fact must first be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged conspiracy in fact existed.
- If the alleged conspiracy is found to exist then the trier of fact must review all the evidence that is directly admissible against the accused and decide on a balance of probabilities whether or not [the accused] is a member of the conspiracy.
- If the trier of fact concludes on a balance of probabilities that the accused is a member of the conspiracy then [the trier] must go on and decide whether the Crown has established such membership beyond reasonable doubt. In this last step only, the trier of fact can apply the hearsay exception and consider evidence of acts and declarations of co-conspirators done in furtherance of the object of the conspiracy as evidence against the accused on the issue of his guilt.
 On the first stage of Carter analysis, the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a conspiracy to import heroin in a concealed shipment from Pakistan, to ensure the parcel’s release from customs, and to transport it from the warehouse to the apartment to facilitate trafficking...
 On the second stage of the Carter analysis, the Crown says that it has proven, on a balance of probabilities, that Madumelu, Poku, and Zamora were members in the conspiracy. I agree. The circumstantial evidence convincingly establishes that Madumelu was the mastermind:…
 I also find, on a balance of probabilities, that Poku was a part of the conspiracy.…
 …I find that it is more likely than not that Zamora was a member of the conspiracy.
 As will be discussed in detail below, on the totality of the evidence, including the hearsay evidence, I find that the Crown has not established beyond a reasonable doubt that Zamora was a member of the conspiracy to import, possess, and traffic in heroin. While he was likely a member of the conspiracy, I have a lingering doubt about whether Zamora knew that there was a controlled substance in the parcel.
 Because the Crown’s theory of liability rests on Zamora being a “trusted insider” in relation to the suspects’ conspiracy to import, possess, and traffic heroin, my analysis under the third step of Carter resolves the ultimate issue as it relates to Zamora. Stated differently, if the Crown cannot prove that Zamora was a member of the conspiracy to import heroin based on all the evidence—including the hearsay evidence—it follows that the Crown will not be able to prove that Zamora’s had the requisite intention to import, possess, and traffic in a controlled substance. Therefore, to avoid duplication, I consider below whether the Crown has proven reasonable doubt that Zamora was a member of the conspiracy to import and traffic in heroin, and whether he is guilty of the offence charged.
HAS THE CROWN PROVEN THE CHARGES AGAINST ZAMORA?
 Given the amount and value of the heroin seized, the Crown says I can infer that Zamora was a trusted insider who would have known about the parcel’s contents. The Crown reasons that, without such knowledge, Madumelu would not have trusted Zamora to retrieve and transport such a valuable amount of heroin. Indeed, the Court of Appeal for Ontario has confirmed that these inferences “may be available from the objective improbability that such a valuable quantity of drugs would be entrusted to anyone who did not know the nature of the contents or the means of transport”: R. v. Burnett, 2018 ONCA 790, para. 64; R. v. Bains, 2015 ONCA 677, para. 157.
 The Crown says that the totality of the evidence unequivocally points to Zamora being a “trusted insider.” I agree that the circumstantial evidence supports reasonable inferences that, when taken together, establish a compelling case that Zamora knew what was inside the parcel. In particular, the evidence supports reasonable inferences that:
- Zamora knew Madumelu’s true identity and involvement in the scheme as early as February 19, 2018, when Poku texted him saying, “Yo chuks wants to know if you are good for tomorrow or Wednesday.”
- Zamora was directed by Madumelu—via Poku—to create a Kijiji ad that would facilitate private web-based communications, with Madumelu using the alias “Richard Domond.”.
- Zamora was directed by Madumelu—via Poku—to communicate with “Domond” in a tone and manner that would support their ruse of Zamora being an innocent delivery person.
- Zamora revealed his precise knowledge about the contents of the parcel when he told the undercover officer at the warehouse that there was “nothing fragile” inside.
- Zamora would have overheard Poku speaking with Madumelu immediately after they left the warehouse and while they were in the car together, and the conversation likely referred to the true contents of the parcel.
- Zamora would only have met with Madumelu at the restaurant after the delivery if he was a trusted insider who knew Madumelu’s true identity and whose role extended beyond that of an innocent delivery driver.
 Zamora admits that the “trusted insider” inference is available to me but argues that it is not the only reasonable inference arising on the totality of the evidence or absence of evidence. Zamora’s counsel says that the Crown’s theory is weak insofar as it invites me to speculate about what the suspects may have spoken about in the car and in the restaurant.
 Counsel says that another reasonable inference available to me on the evidence is that Zamora was an innocent delivery driver who was duped by Poku and Madumelu into picking up the parcel. Mr. Roth says that it was in Poku and Madumelu’s interests to keep Zamora in the dark about the contents of the parcel so that Zamora would agree to do the pickup, would not rouse suspicions while doing so, and would not be able to supply information to the authorities if he was apprehended at the warehouse: see R v. Allen, 2022 ONSC 5539, paras. 81-84.
 Zamora relies on the following evidence to support the alternative inference that he was an “innocent dupe”:
- Zamora never concealed his true identity from Poku or Madumelu.
- Zamora used his personal cell phone and email address to communicate with both Madumelu and Poku.
- Zamora only ever communicated directly with “Domond,” who responded to his Kijiji advertisement for delivery services, and with whom he engaged in a professional conversation about particulars and rates.
- Zamora was largely unknown to Madumelu, who only learned Zamora’s last name from Poku a few hours before the pickup and did not have Zamora’s contact information in his phone.
- The only freight documents in Zamora’s possession listed the consignee as “Domond” and the contents of the parcel as “empty bags” weighing 45 kilograms.
 The Crown says that the “innocent dupe” theory is speculative and ungrounded in the evidence. I disagree. The defence theory is grounded in the Kijiji messages and email attachments that Zamora provided to police, coupled with the absence of evidence directly linking Zamora and Madumelu. On their face, the Kijiji messages provide some evidence to support the “innocent dupe” theory. However, I agree with the Crown that the statements cannot be afforded much weight given their self-serving nature. They were provided by Zamora to police and proffered by him at trial. When read against the contemporaneous text messages between Poku and Zamora, I strongly suspect that Zamora used Kijiji as a means to communicate privately with Madumelu and to create exculpatory evidence as insurance in case he was apprehended.
 However, the Kijiji messages point to a larger issue with the Crown’s case. The Crown’s theory rests almost entirely on the “trusted agent” inference without establishing that Zamora was indeed directly connected to or trusted by the admitted mastermind, Madumelu. While there is some evidence linking Zamora and Madumelu, none of it is particularly strong. While Poku referred to “Chuks” in a text message to Zamora on February 19th, Zamora did not acknowledge or reply to the message. The Crown says that I should infer that Zamora saw the message. I refuse to do so. Poku’s text message referencing “Chuks” did not include a last name or phone number, is temporally disconnected from the pickup on March 1st, and was neither acknowledged nor adopted by Zamora.
 Indeed, the Crown has offered no circumstantial evidence supporting an inference that Zamora knew Madumelu’s true identity at any point during the conspiracy. Zamora never used Madumelu’s name in his outgoing text messages….
…While Zamora met with Madumelu at the restaurant, we do not know what identity Madumelu may have assumed during the meeting. In this context, the fact that Madumelu knew Zamora’s true identity tells us little about the extent of Zamora’s knowledge about Madumelu or what was in the parcel.
 Moreover, Poku’s involvement in attending at the warehouse and apartment makes more sense if Zamora were an innocent dupe than if he were a trusted insider. Poku never went inside the warehouse and did not help Zamora carry the parcel to the car. If Zamora were a trusted insider, why would Poku attend at the warehouse at all? What was his role? Why couldn’t Zamora be trusted to retrieve the parcel on his own? And, most importantly, why expose himself to risk of arrest? Poku’s actions and near constant communication with Madumelu make the most sense if his role had been to supervise the parcel’s safe delivery to its ultimate destination on the 19th floor of the apartment building precisely because Zamora did not know about its contents.
 In short, the circumstantial evidence against Zamora can reasonably support several alternative inferences about his potential state of mind. Zamora may well have been entirely oblivious to the scheme or an “innocent dupe.” Or he could have even suspected that the parcel contained contraband but not necessarily drugs. On either of these alternative inferences, Zamora lacks the mens rea required to be found guilty of importing a controlled substance or possessing a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking….
…Based on the totality of the evidence, the Crown has not satisfied its burden of proof in relation to Zamora.