Duo jailed for drug trafficking

TWO MEN who pleaded guilty to trafficking in a multi-city drug bust that included three cities in addition to Terrace have been sentenced.

And in both cases, the sentences have resulted in jail time.

Joseph Daniel Clement Belanger, known as Danny, 50, was sentenced to seven months in jail on two charges of trafficking in marijuana from Mister Justice Robert Punnett in supreme court here Nov. 29.

“Mr. Belanger, I hope this is your last experience such as this and all the best in the future,” said Punnett after sentencing.

In September 2008, more than 50 police officers in Terrace and Kelowna executed 12 search warrants in those communities as they closed in on a drug trafficking ring they had been investigating for a year, said police at that time.

The searches in Terrace included four houses, one hotel room and one industrial shop, and resulted in the arrests of three men.

Police seized three firearms, three vehicles, a small quantity of marijuana and $10,000 cash and two locked safes – one was empty and the other contained two loaded handguns, said police at that time.

Police alleged that the Terrace-based drug trafficking ring brought drugs – cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana – from Vancouver to Kelowna for repackaging before it was redistributed in the Terrace and Prince Rupert areas.

Punnett noted that he had concerns about the seriousness of the offence and Belanger’s  understanding of that as Belanger had only recently stopped using marijuana even though he knew its use to be unlawful, he minimized the seriousness of his actions and was dealing in half pound amounts of marijuana.

Crown prosecutor John Walker had asked for a jail sentence of two years less a day.

Defence lawyer Marty Johnson had asked for a conditional sentence order.

Belanger had requested to have his firearms given to his brother instead of having to forfeit them.

Those firearms were considered to have a sentimental value as they belonged to Belanger’s father.

Punnett said he wouldn’t order that the firearms be placed in the care of Belanger’s brother but if police had no opposition to his brother getting the firearms, provided he met the requirements to possess firearms, he could have them.

Belanger was also ordered to provide a DNA sample, be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms for 10 years and not have to pay a victim fine surcharge.

A charge of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence was stayed by the court.

Matthew Aaron Koepke, 22, was handed a 10 month jail sentence on three charges of trafficking in cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.

“Mr. Koepke, it seems to me you’ve got your life back on track and once you’ve completed your term of incarceration, I hope things go better for you,” said Punnett after sentencing, referring to Koepke’s efforts to secure employment and further his education.

Koepke’s cocaine trafficking included not just Terrace, but also Prince Rupert, Prince George and Kelowna, court heard.

Crown Counsel John Walker asked for a three-year jail term while Koepke’s defence lawyer, Harvey Gansner, asked for two years less a day to be served as a conditional sentence order.

Koepke must provide a DNA sample, is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms for 10 years, and does not have to pay a victim fine surcharge.

Three charges of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence were stayed by the court.

Two other people arrested and charged in the same case were sentenced earlier this year in Kelowna.

Lawna Lee Chamberlain, 39, was given a 20 month jail sentence and Jason Gerald Tamblyn, 28, will spend 14 months behind bars.


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