04 Jul Fentanyl dealer sent to prison
A Toronto drug dealer who sold fentanyl and cocaine in Simcoe told a judge Thursday he’s done trafficking after seeing the effects of drugs while in jail awaiting trial.
“I never used to understand the seriousness,” said Chung Din, 24, who pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl and cocaine for trafficking, possession of the proceeds of property obtained by crime and two courts of breach of recognizance.
“I will never be the same person I was and I thank God He incarcerated me.”
A dozen family members and friends came from the Toronto area to support the man. Court also heard numerous letters of support.
Justice Aubrey Hilliard said deciding a punishment required a delicate balance. She opted for a 5 1/2-year prison sentence after giving Din credit for having already served 19 months in jail, for a global sentence of seven years.
The judge said the man had a disadvantaged start in life as a Vietnamese-Chinese child growing up in subsidized housing in Toronto. But his background had to be weighed against the deadly effect fentanyl is having on society.
“I do have to consider Mr. Din’s rehabilitation prospects and .. ensure his sentence cannot be crushing for this 24-year-old man. But the courts are recognizing the inherent danger to the public of fentanyl and Mr. Din indicates he’s seen it first hand.”
When arrested by Norfolk OPP on Jan. 18, 2018, Din was found with about 104 grams of a fentanyl-heroin mixture, 70 grams of cocaine and more than $3,500 in currency.
And he was on bail for a trafficking charge in Hamilton.
Police estimated the drugs were valued between $15,000 to $37,000, depending on how they were sold.
Din made bail and was ordered to stay away from three other people arrested in his case. But he was seen at a court appearance with one, who was his girlfriend at the time.
Federal prosecutor Jamie Pereira asked the judge to sentence Din to eight years in prison, while defence lawyer Anita Nathan suggested a six-year sentence.
“We’re seeing (fentanyl) cases far too often and they often involve people losing their lives,” said Pereira.
“Overdoses are increasing at an alarming rate. And the quantities involved are also aggravating. Also, he was subject to a recognizance but his drug activity continued. He was charged with other offences in Hamilton.”
Pereira said Din admitted to trafficking for a long period and was motivated by greed as opposed to dealing with an addiction.
But Nathan argued her client, as the oldest of three siblings, felt a need to help provide for his family, especially a sister’s education.
“There were times, as a child, when he would go hungry or hear gunshots in his community. He has spoken repeatedly of his remorse and the example he’s set for his younger brother.”
Nathan also presented a number of letters from longtime friends of Din.
One teacher said “some people deserve a second chance at life and some even deserve a first.”
But Pereira said that drug trafficking is an inherently violent act and the court should be cautious about taking into account a financial need for selling drugs when a dealer is found with thousands of dollars.
“The tragedy of Mr. Din serving out his twenties in jail can’t be denied but the court can’t lose sight with what’s happening across the country.”
She said she hopes, at the end of his incarceration, Din will still have the positive outlook and large group of supportive friends.
“I have significant hope that you will lead a pro-social life and that all these people will lead you on the right path.”
Din is banned from owning weapons ban for the rest of his life.