Cocaine trafficking earns jail time

A Salmon Arm man has been ordered to serve three years in jail for trafficking cocaine in the Shuswap and Enderby areas.

Sebastiano Burtone, 47, was sentenced recently after having been found guilty by Supreme Court Judge James Threlfall on Feb. 18.

In addition to the jail term, Burtone must provide a DNA sample and has a lifetime firearms prohibition.

The charge relates to an incident March 29, 2008, when Burtone was arrested by Salmon Arm RCMP in a vehicle which was parked on a logging road just off the Trans-Canada Highway between Salmon Arm and Sicamous.

In the early morning hours, police had been following a known cocaine user, who was driving towards Sicamous, when they noticed the parked car flash its headlights.

Police decided to investigate and discovered Burtone, who was sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle which was being driven by another Salmon Arm man.

On the floor of the passenger seat was a thermos, which police later discovered was filled with a significant quantity of crack cocaine and “soft” cocaine. Burtone was also found with 36 “dime baggies,” which is how cocaine can be packaged for individual sale.

Police also seized $2,185 in cash from Burtone’s wallet and his cell phone.

Over the next few hours, police began to answer incoming calls to the cell phone, noting various people were asking for “soft” product or were saying they were waiting for delivery.

Burtone denied the drugs were his, as did the driver of the vehicle. Burtone also told the judge that baggies were going to be used to hold nuts and bolts, as he intended to restore an old car.

Threlfall, however, did not believe Burtone’s story.

“I have reviewed the evidence given by Mr. Burtone and I find it to be incredible.”

The judge noted he accepted evidence from the police that the amount of cocaine and the cell phone calls as proof of Burtone’s drug trafficking activity.