Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Man who smuggled drugs was given a conditional sentence
A key cog in an elaborate international drug-smuggling case has struck a deal with justice officials that keeps him out of jail.
Dean Chyzy, 33, pleaded guilty Monday to shipping huge volumes of raw ephedrine, which is a prime ingredient in the creation of highly-addictive crystal methamphetamine. He was given a conditional sentence of two years less a day under a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.
"This has been an incredibly emotional and frustrating experience," defence lawyer Ian Garber told court in describing the resolution to a case which has spent nearly six years dragging through the courts. "This matter has taken forever."
More than 80 people were indicted in the case in Canada, California and Mexico after more than 250 police officers conducted 34 raids in September 2004. RCMP in Winnipeg held a news conference the day after, saying they seized 9,000 kilograms of ephedrine, worth an estimated $14.5 million on the street as meth, along with $3.5 million cash. A total of 10 Manitobans were arrested.
It was alleged the ephedrine was legally imported into Canada through a Thunder Bay, Ont., company, but was soon diverted to the black market. Ephedrine is banned in the United States, while Health Canada regulates its sale in this country. Much of the ephedrine was ultimately smuggled into the United States to methamphetamine labs run by the Mexican Mafia.
Chyzy's role was that of an "intermediate" who helped negotiate sales to buyers in western provinces, court was told. The ringleader behind the criminal enterprise was Lac du Bonnet resident Rodger Bruneau, who died of a heart attack following his arrest. Another accused was later shot to death in Winnipeg in a killing that remains unsolved.
Bruneau's business partner, David Sokalski, pleaded guilty earlier this spring and was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to forfeit nearly $4 million in cash and property deemed the proceeds of crime.
Crown attorney Brian Clark told court Monday Chyzy was a much smaller player in the organization. Police seized about $2,500 in proceeds from his residence.
The case against the Canadian accused has dragged through the legal system while lawyers debated how mountains of RCMP evidence should be disclosed to the accused. Last month, a judge dismissed all charges against former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Eddie Blake on the grounds his rights had been violated because of "unreasonable" legal delay.
Blake and Chyzy were former business partners, court was told Monday. Garber said his client quickly got in over his head in an attempt to make some quick, easy money. He said several "unfriendly" criminal characters began threatening Chyzy and his family, prompting him to move out of Manitoba.
On one occasion, two of the men accosted Chyzy outside a third-floor courtroom at the Winnipeg Law Courts, threatening to throw him over the railing if he didn't pay someone else's debt. Days later, somebody tried to run his car off the road, said Garber.
I completely agree with a conditional sentence for drug offenders. I do not think prison is ever warranted as most drug offenders are not a danger to society and are more likely to become criminally involved and entrenched in the lifestyle through associates in prison. Prisons are the schools of crime.