Addict convicted in sting

It's pretty hard to get off on a trafficking charge after bringing fentanyl to an undercover RCMP officer, a recent Kelowna court decision has shown.

Fernando Verde was convicted last Friday of trafficking fentanyl, after he brought undercover officer Cpl. MacIntyre $20 worth of heroin, which later turned out to contain fentanyl.

At 5:25 p.m. on July 12, 2017, the officer approached a group of four people on Sutherland Avenue near the Capri Centre Mall and asked if he could buy some “down,” the street name for heroin. All four of the people were known to police.

During this time, the Kelowna RCMP were targeting "low-level drug traffickers" within specific geographical areas, specifically Leon Avenue, City Park, Capri Mall parking lot, Mill Bridge Park and around an address on Chandler Street.

Verde, one of the four people targeted, told Cpl. MacIntyre he knew where to get some heroin, and took his $20. Verde met two other people on bicycles near Nester's Market on Gordon Drive and Bernard Avenue. Ten minutes later, he met Cpl. MacIntyre at the 7-Eleven across the street and gave him $20 worth of the heroin he had purchased, while keeping $10 worth for himself.

At trial last month, Verde argued he had not trafficked the drugs, but was simply helping out a fellow addict.

“He believed that Cpl. MacIntyre was a fellow addict, and considered himself to be assisting another addict who would be feeling the pain of withdrawal,” Justice Wilson said in his decision.

In a narrative heard all too often in the courts, Verde, now 37, previously worked as a roofer, before a significant injury led to a prescription opiate addiction. When he could no longer get prescription pills, he turned to street drugs.

He funded his addiction through Employment Insurance payments, collecting bottles and cans and occasional handouts from family and friends

Justice Wilson accepted that Verde never made his money by selling drugs, but ruled that when he purchased the drugs and physically delivered them to the officer, he committed the offence of trafficking.

Additionally, Verde argued he was entrapped by the police, but Justice Wilson disagreed. 

“Cpl. MacIntyre did nothing more than provide Mr. Verde with the opportunity to commit the offence,” Justice Wilson ruled. “There was no pressure, coercion or other entrapment technique employed to persuade or to convince Mr. Verde to commit the offence that he otherwise might not have committed.”

A presentence report and psychiatric report will be prepared for Verde prior to his sentencing, which is expected later this summer.

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