A Surrey man with no prior record has been sentenced to two years for trafficking fentanyl. That is in the middle of the range that the B.C. Court of Appeal established last year for street-level dealers in the deadly drug. Some have gotten off easier – Ajay Joon got probation and no jail time.
And Walter McCormick got a 14-year-sentence in January 2017 for a much larger quantity of fentanyl.
Here’s my story on the latest sentencing:
A young Surrey man has been sentenced to two years in jail after being caught with a stash of fentanyl-laced pills that a judge said amounted to “over 1,000 potential death sentences.”
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nigel Kent said that Jasondeep Johal was more than a street-level dealer given the volume of the deadly drugs he possessed when arrested in 2015.
And he said that Johal, 26, needed a substantial jail sentence for his conviction last November on three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
“The principles of denunciation and deterrence of drug dealing in fentanyl demand a substantial jail sentence. Such incarceration would also acknowledge the harm done to the victims of the fentanyl crisis and to the community at large,” Kent said.
“The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Johal was trafficking illegal drugs at a distributor level and not just as a street-level retailer,” Kent said. “The fact that the pills were counterfeit Oxycodone meant that Mr. Johal had access to a drug‑trafficking network capable of producing large amounts of such product.”
Johal was in a Jeep Cherokee when he was stopped by Richmond RCMP about 1:15 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2015. Police smelled “vegetative marijuana” and searched the vehicle.
Inside they found “a plastic bag containing 1,090 green-coloured pills, and stamped on one side with `80’ and `CDN’ on the other.”
“Later testing of the pills confirmed that each contained heroin, fentanyl and a derivative of fentanyl, all of which are controlled substances,” Kent said.
The Crown in the case sought a sentence of five years, while Johal’s lawyer asked for a term of just nine months.
Kent noted that Johal was a “youthful first-time offender” without any prior criminal record.
“He has a wide circle of family and friends who are supportive of him and who will assist him with obtaining employment and staying on the right path in the future,” the judge said.
But he also said that Johal supporters who wrote reference letters didn’t explain how “a person of supposedly good character, became involved in the drug trade or why he was trafficking 1,090 pills containing fentanyl, a pernicious substance that has caused widespread death and misery in British Columbia for several years.”
Some of the letter writers have criminal records, Kent noted, and others “have been in the company of known gang associates or persons suspected in illegal drug transactions” according to police.
While Johal himself addressed the court, he “provided no explanation how he became involved in the drug trade, or what the extent of that involvement might have been,” Kent said.
“There is no evidence that he was himself a drug addict or that he was dealing drugs to support his own habit. While he purported to apologize, he did not actually admit to any criminal conduct let alone acknowledge the harm he may have caused to the community.”
He said that even though Johal claimed to be a changed man, “nothing in his demeanour, or tone and content of expression conveyed sincere remorse.”
Kent said that the normal sentencing range for a street-level fentanyl trafficker is now 18 months to three years in jail.
Kent also imposed a period of two years probation on Johal, as well as a DNA order and a 10-year firearms ban.