Four years in prison for Kamloops dealer who used fentanyl to increase profits

Fentanyl dealer gets 4 years

A gang-affiliated Kamloops drug dealer who was caught on police wiretaps “experimenting” with fentanyl to increase his profit margin has been ordered to spend four years in federal prison.

Jacob Cavanagh, 28, was sentenced Friday in B.C. Supreme Court. He pleaded guilty in March to a single count of possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking stemming from a years-long undercover RCMP investigation targeting a Kamloops biker gang.

Court heard Cavanagh was an associate of Zale Coty, an alleged drug trafficker who owned Sunshine Gardens, a hydroponics shop in Valleyview targeted by the police sting that began in 2017.

According to an agreed statement of facts filed in court as part of Cavanagh’s sentencing hearing, Mounties in 2019 received authorization from a judge to install covert wiretaps and video cameras inside Sunshine Gardens.

The recording equipment captured detailed discussions between Cavanagh and Coty.

Conversations between the men were recorded and quoted in the agreed statement of facts — discussions in which they talk about how to maximize their trafficking profits by “experimenting” with fentanyl, food colouring and different cutting agents.

“There’s a lot of money to be made here,” Coty said to Cavanagh during a conversation recorded inside Sunshine Gardens on Aug. 23, 2019.

“There’s tons,” Cavanagh replied.

Five days later, Cavanagh was caught on tape explaining to Coty how to mix the drugs and what ratios to use.

“I’ve been thinking about this and it can’t be that hard,” he said.

“I think you just f---ing mix it up super good, put it in like a steel bowl, like a mixing bowl, spray a little vinegar water, mix it up so it’s a paste kind of, put it in a f---ing press. When it comes out it will still be wet, that’s why you put it into a dehydrator and then it can’t be any harder than that — it can’t be."

Crown prosecutor Oren Bick and defence lawyer Ian Gauthier put forward a joint submission for four years — a deal Bick said was the result of a plea bargain.

Bick cited the “exponential increase” in fatal drug overdoses in B.C. since 2012 and Cavanagh’s apparent standing in the hierarchy of the trafficking network as aggravating factors.

“While the Crown does not view Mr. Cavanagh as being as high in the hierarchy as Mr. Coty, he is higher than a street-level dealer,” he said.

Gauthier said Cavanagh wasn’t getting rich while dealing drugs, having spent the majority of his illicit earnings on partying and cocaine.

Court heard Cavanagh wants to turn his life around.

“I am committed to not offending again and I have taken steps to break the cycle of drug use and abuse in my own family by taking counselling,” he said in a written statement read in court.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan sentenced Cavanagh to four years in prison.

He was also ordered to submit a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database and prohibited from possessing firearms for 10 years.

Last year, police said their investigation into Coty and Cavanagh was linked to the Throttle Lockers outlaw motorcycle gang.

According to Mounties, the investigation yielded $330,000 in cash, significant amounts of drugs and Hells Angels support gear, among other items.

Three men were arrested at the conclusion of the sting — Cavanagh, Coty and Shawn Carlisle.

Carlisle, 49, pleaded guilty last year to one count each of trafficking cocaine and unlawfully selling cannabis. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and is now free on day parole.

Coty remains free on bail. He is expected to plead guilty sometime early next year, Bick said.

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