What to do when charged with drug trafficking offences? A case study

SUMMARY: Gang suppression team executes search warrants on multiple locations while investigating dial a dope operation

OFFENCE: Possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine

RESULT: Charges stayed


Regina v. X.X. – June 2020

Charges: Section 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act 

In this case, members of the Calgary Police Service Gang Enforcement Team (GET) initiated a drug trafficking investigation with the objective of targeting multiple individuals running a dial-a-dope business operating within the city of Calgary.  Dial-a-dope operations are inherently difficult to investigate due to the fact that the targets are mobile, do not carry a significant amount of “product” with them at any given time, often change phone numbers frequently or exchange phones frequently, and keep their larger quantities of drugs at a location known as a “stash house” where nobody actually resides.  Consequently, the police have to be creative with their investigative tactics. They use techniques such as mobile surveillance to follow their targets without being ‘made’ (identified), use undercover operatives to purchase drugs and capture the transaction on video (most undercover officers now carry some video recording device) and perform stationary surveillance on locations to see who is coming and going.

In this case, the Gang Enforcement Team targeted 3 individuals who were purported to be involved in the drug trafficking industry. The Gang Enforcement Team ultimately gathered sufficient evidence, supposedly, to obtain a warrant to enter a number of Calgary houses and apartments.  Through the execution of the search warrants, the police in this case seized significant amounts of heroin and cocaine (hard and soft).

X.X. retained the services of drug defence lawyer Sean Fagan to defend these most serious criminal charges.  Ultimately, Sean Fagan was successful at securing a stay of proceedings on the laundry list of charges that X.X. faced, sparing X.X. a lengthy period of incarceration and ensuring that he remained a man without a criminal record.

The most important decision you make when charged with a criminal offence is who you retain to represent you. Sean Fagan has significant experience at successfully defending serious complex drug prosecutions.

Each case turns on its own facts, and a lawyer can only give you a definitive opinion on what you’re up against, and what they can do about it, once they have received and analyzed full disclosure. That being said, it is rare to come across a drug prosecution where viable avenues of defence are non-existent.  Moreover, when facing a drug trafficking prosecution, rarely will you receive a palatable offer of resolution.  This is because in Alberta, there are sentencing guidelines, that in effect, are mandatory minimum periods of incarceration. The time of serving a sentence of house arrest for drug trafficking charges are long gone.

For those wondering what to do when charged with drug trafficking offences? In most drug trafficking cases, you have two choices, you fight, or you go to jail.  Given those two options, it is advisable to retain a lawyer who not only is willing to zealously advocate for you at trial but has the knowledge and experience to identify weaknesses in the Crown’s case where others may not.