Fentanyl dealing at casino

A Penticton mother has been sentenced to 34 months in prison for being caught selling fentanyl from the slot machines of the old Penticton Lakeside casino in 2016.

Jennifer Montgomery, 32, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking after being busted with cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin/fentanyl.

RCMP were called to the Penticton Lakeside casino by staff on Sept 8, 2016. Staff told police Montgomery had been playing slot machines while on the phone for the past week. People would walk up to her, put money into her machine, and receive something small in return.

She was also frequently meeting with people in the washrooms, on the patio and in the resort’s parkade.

Attending RCMP officers joined the casino security staff in watching Montgomery operate via surveillance cameras. They observed her using her cell phone in front of a slot machine, before leaving the casino and getting into and exiting the backseat of two separate vehicles in quick succession in the Lakeside parkade.

Later that night, RCMP stopped one of Montgomery’s customers as they drove away from the casino and recovered a small bag of a heroin/fentanyl mixture.

Police then arrested Montgomery herself, and found her in possession of $1,600 worth of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin/fentanyl.

The arrest occurred while Montgomery was out on bail in relation to a RCMP raid on her home in June 2016 that recovered a safe full of drugs and cash.  She was found guilty of those charges — two counts of simple possession and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking — after a trial in Penticton earlier this year.

Crown prosecutor Clarke Burnett noted it took just six weeks from when she was released on bail on the first arrest, for her to “get her drug dealing operation up and running again.”

“She’s trafficking in three different types of hard drugs, she’s a virtual drug store disseminating drugs to individuals who are no doubt struggling with addiction in her own community,” he added.

Burnett sought 30 months prison for the casino arrest and a further 8 months for the charges related to the raid on her home.

He presented the judge with statistics about the deadly toll fentanyl has taken on B.C., highlighting several previous cases dealing with fentanyl dealers that showed the courts have been imposing much more severe sentences compared to other types of narcotics.

Eleven people died of fentanyl overdose in Penticton in 2017.

“This insanity must end,” said Justice Gary Weatherill in his decision, declaring that citizens rightfully expect the justice system to deal with fentanyl dealers severely.

“The ongoing trafficking of fentanyl-laced heroin in the face of widely known serious consequences show an indifference towards human life.”

Montgomery’s own mother, a lifetime heroin addict, died of a drug overdose in November 2016, while Montgomery was behind bars. Defence lawyer Michael Patterson told the courtroom that death has helped her understand the consequences of her actions.

Patterson explained his client has three children and is pregnant with a fourth. Montgomery’s daughters have been removed from her care and are living with an aunt.

Weatherill initially sentenced Montgomery to 26 months for the casino arrest and six months for the raid on her home, which with credit for time already served, would have placed her in the provincial corrections system.

Montgomery pleaded with the judge to bump up the sentence on the casino arrest to 28 months, which will see her serve federal time and benefit from more favourable parole guidelines.

Weatherill accepted, landing on a global sentence of 34 months for both files. With just under 10 months already served, Montgomery has a little over two years left behind bars.

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