26 May Undercover Kelowna sting nabs man on one count of trafficking fentanyl
May 26, 2019 – 7:00 AM
KELOWNA – An undercover sting operation nearly two years ago has finally resulted in the conviction of a man for one count of trafficking fentanyl in Kelowna. Sometimes it takes a big net to catch a small fish.
According to a May 17 decision recently posted online, Justice Steven Wilson found Fernando Anacleto Angelo Verde, 37, guilty on one count of trafficking fentanyl, despite Verde’s argument that the undercover operative who asked him to purchase drugs constituted entrapment.
The decision laid out the facts of the event, which started on July 17, 2017 when an undercover cop approached a group of four people near a thrift store on Sutherland Avenue by the Capri Centre mall. The RCMP had been conducting undercover operations on street-level drug dealers in several Kelowna areas at the time, including Leon Avenue, City Park, Mill Bridge Park, and Chandler Street.
The cop struck up a conversation with the group and asked for “down,” the street name for heroin. Verde, who was in the group, said he could get some for him. The pair walked to a 7-Eleven on the corner of Gordon Drive and Bernard Avenue before Verde proceeded down Bernard by himself.
The officer and Verde gave differing accounts for this separation. Verde said he doesn’t know why the officer didn’t follow him, while the cop said Verde asked for money to pay for the drugs, $20-worth, which he wanted to do by himself. The officer kept Verde’s backpack and green cap as collateral.
According to the decision, Verde walked towards the Nester’s Market store and spoke with two people on bicycles. Ten minutes later, Verde returned with a tinfoil packet filled with drugs, which he split between himself and the cop, which led to his arrest.
Verde is a former roofer who became addicted to opiates after a serious injury. He turned to street drugs after he could no longer obtain prescription medication. He was homeless when he was arrested.
Verde claimed he was planning to get drugs before the cop approached him and he decided to assist the cop because he believed he was a fellow addict. Verde claimed he paid $30 for the drugs, $10 more than what the officer gave him. Justice Wilson concluded that Verde did not profit off the transaction.
However, Justice Wilson said Verde’s actions fell squarely under the definition of trafficking, since he transferred and delivered drugs.
Justice Wilson also shot down Verde’s defense argument that the undercover operation constituted entrapment, stating that the police went no further than providing the accused an opportunity to commit the offense. The officer did not encourage or induce Verde to break the law beyond his initial inquiry for heroin.
Stating that the entrapment arugment failed, Justice Wilson found Verde guilty on the single count of trafficking fentanyl.
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