Two North Okanagan men will have plenty of time to think about their roles in a major cross-border drug smuggling ring.
Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge T.J. Keene sentenced Brock Ernest Palfrey, 25, of Silver Star, and Troy Ernest Swanson, 26, of Coldstream to 18 and 12 years, respectively, in prison.
Both, however, have been given credit for time already served.
Palfrey was sentenced to a total of 16 years, 258 days, and Swanson will serve new time of 10 years, 248 days.
In early November, Palfrey pleaded guilty to seven counts – three of trafficking in a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance, one count of instructing commission of an offence for a criminal organization and two counts of failing to comply with conditions.
Swanson pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully importing cocaine into Canada and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Both were arrested in October 2011 in the North Okanagan.
Police in Regina said at the time that 367 kilograms of cocaine was seized as a result of their investigation, which began in 2010, representing the largest seizure ever by the Regina Integrated Drug Unit in the province of Saskatchewan.
Also seized as part of this investigation was $340,000 in Canadian currency as well as three all-terrain vehicles, two pick-up trucks, one mini-van and firearms.
Keene disagreed with Palfrey’s lawyer’s assertion that the drug smuggling operation Palfrey led between Canada and the U.S. was “not sophisticated.”
“Mr. Palfrey had to coordinate an international organization involving different drivers in two countries,” said Keene. “The drivers had to be directed to remote areas north of the Saskatchewan-Montana border for drop off and pick up of drugs.”
Keene also pointed out Palfrey recruited and trained many of the drivers on the drug trips, used advanced cell phone technology and was trusted by those who ordered vast quantity of drugs.
He said Palfrey was “no slouch” when it came to setting up a sophisticated system for the importation and exportation of illegal drugs.
Swanson was described as a courier in the operation whose job was to drive from B.C. to the U.S. and pick up cocaine. For each trip, Palfrey paid Swanson between $5,000 and $10,000.
Palfrey accompanied Swanson on each trip in a separate vehicle, the pair keeping in contact via two-way radio.
“Clearly Mr. Swanson does not fall into the category of the higher-ups in the world of drugs,” said Keene. “He was a simple courier…he never recruited anyone, did not train anyone, did not modify vehicles (to hide drugs) or make the trips alone without supervision.”
Crown stated both men were motivated by greed, but conceded neither had addictions issues.
The judge took into account that both men showed genuine remorse for their actions and that neither had criminal records prior to this investigation.