A recent court document states that Vancouver Police violated the rights of two drug traffickers, so they won't have to serve jail time. The ruling, which was posted yesterday on Tuesday, April 9, states that several rights of two suspects were violated by police. Due to this, the two men accused of being behind a drug trafficking ring have had all their charged dropped, says a BC Supreme Court document posted yesterday.
The judge decided to drop all the charges after finding Vancouver police guilty of violating their rights on several occasions throughout the seven-month investigation.
According to the document, in the latter part of 2014 and into 2015, the Vancouver police conducted an extensive project investigation into the trafficking of controlled substances. As a result, a number of individuals were charged with offences. Two of the people, Dennis Halstead and Jason Heyman, appeared in front of the court on February 20th, 2019.
Halstead was charged with five offences including “4 counts of possession of controlled substances (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl) for the purpose of trafficking, and one count of possession of a firearm.”
Heyman was charged with 12 offences including “7 counts of possession of controlled substances (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl) for the purpose of trafficking, and 5 counts alleging unlawful possession of firearms.”
Investigation Project Trooper originally targeted Halstead but throughout the investigation, several other people were also charged. Police discovered that Heyman was the business partner of Halstead, making them both key pieces in this large scale drugs trafficking allegation.
According to the court document, the men were accused of actively supplying drugs to hotels in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In order to conduct the investigation, a number of techniques were used by Vancouver police involving extensive surveillance.
This court case suggests that over several months of the seven-month long investigation, Vancouver police breached the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on many occasions.
The Vancouver police allegedly conducted warrantless searches that resulted in the seizure of items. As a result, the defendants, Halstead and Heyman, asked the court for the evidence seized during a number of searches, including those of several homes and vehicles, to be excluded from the evidence at trial.
The court document also stated that Halstead’s privacy was breached after police set up multi-month video surveillance of his house without a warrant. Police also improperly obtained passport photos of Heyman and Halstead and conducted swabs of houses and several vehicles.
Along with the warrantless searches, the judge of the February case ruled that police violated the rights of Halstead and Heyman by stalling the process when they asked to speak to their lawyers. In both cases, the men were not given telephone access to contact counsel for several hours after requesting contact. Another breach made by Vancouver police was their failure to file reports.
The court document concluded with the judge's recounts. “I do not make this decision without careful thought. As a result of this court's ruling, these criminal charges will not be adjudicated on their merits. That is regrettable; society deserves a better outcome," wrote Justice James Williams.
While Williams admits that the offences were serious in nature and involved a large scale, for-profit disruption of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs, as well as the possession of firearms, she said that the police did commit serious breaches.