Eight more years in prison for trafficker who introduced ‘countless new people to addiction’

A persistent drug dealer was handed an eight-year prison sentence Monday after being convicted of possession of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking in August 2017.

Horst Schirmer, 48, was also convicted of possession of cannabis and GHB and possession of brass knuckles. He is already in prison serving a six-year prison sentence for similar drug-trafficking offences in February 2017. In December of 2020, a jury convicted him of possession of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, MDMA and GHB for the purpose of trafficking. For those offences, which took place in May 2017, he received a five-year concurrent sentence.

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The eight-year sentence imposed by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Murray is to be served after the six-year sentence, which means Schirmer’s total sentence is 14 years.

“The message must be clear: Courts will not condone drug trafficking,” said Murray. “If you traffic, you will face a lengthy period of incarceration. The sentence must be a significant one. It cannot be viewed by people like Mr. Schirmer as the cost of doing business.”

On Aug. 2, 2017, Victoria police were conducting surveillance on Schirmer, who was ­sitting in the passenger seat of a white van making its way from Cobble Hill to Langford.

When police attempted to pull the van over, it stopped briefly, then sped off. The van slowed to take a sharp turn and Schirmer jumped out and ran off, carrying a satchel. A local man saw him hop the fence into a neighbour’s yard, duck into a bush, dump the satchel and run off again. Police found him at the rear of a nearby bicycle shop and arrested him.

The satchel contained a large quantity of drugs in different bags, brass knuckles and drug-trafficking paraphernalia. Police seized cocaine, heroin cut with fentanyl, methamphetamine crystals and cannabis. In Schirmer’s wallet they found $3,500 in cash.

Pre-sentence and psychological reports said Schirmer had a difficult upbringing and has struggled with substance abuse for 40 years.

He was abandoned by both parents at different times in his childhood.

He told a psychologist he hated his father and ran away from home “all the time.”

Schirmer dropped out of school in Grade 10 and moved out to live on his own before he turned 17. However, he managed to earn his general education diploma and became a certified nursing assistant. For the past 20 years, he worked as a baker and an auto mechanic.

Schirmer started hanging out with people heavily involved in the drug subculture. At the time of the offences, he was actively using cocaine, crystal meth and GHB.

Murray pointed to aggravating factors that included the amount of drugs found by police, suggesting Schirmer is a mid-level drug dealer, and the fact one of the drugs was the deadly opioid fentanyl. She also noted his prior convictions and breaches of numerous bail conditions. Although he ­struggles with drug use, it’s clear Schirmer traffics in illicit drugs for profit, she said.

Murray noted that Schirmer has completed substance-abuse management courses in prison. She acknowledged his difficult childhood, but said he takes no responsibility and is quick to blame others for his woes.

“Mr. Schirmer, what surprises me probably the most is that you are well aware of the dangers of drugs and you’re constantly bemoaning the difficulties you have had throughout your life because of your drug addiction. And yet by trafficking drugs, you are introducing countless new people to addiction and condemning them to the same fate, all for your monetary gain ­without a care for what you are doing to them,” she said.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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