Man sentenced to 2 years, cocaine worth up to $137,000 found in house

A Saanich man in possession of an “eyebrow-raising quantity of cocaine” has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Alexander Djafar-Zade, 52, pleaded guilty last year to possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. At his sentencing hearing last week, B.C. Supreme Court Robert Johnston accepted a joint submission and imposed the sentence of two years less one day, a lifetime firearms prohibition and an order for Djafar-Zade to provide a sample of his DNA.

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An agreed statement of facts revealed that between Aug. 9 and 11, 2016, Sidney-North Saanich RCMP and the Saanich police street crime unit conducted surveillance on Djafar-Zade and on his mother’s home in Gordon Head, where he lived.

Police arrested Djafar-Zade and searched his home on Aug. 11, 2016. Victoria police Sgt. Mike Chicorelli and his drug-sniffing dog, Cruize, found a hidden compartment on a shelving unit in the garage. Inside the compartment was a plastic baggie containing two one-kilogram bricks of cocaine, seven half-ounce bags of cocaine and six one-ounce bags of cocaine.

In total, police seized 2.3 kilograms of cocaine. The cocaine was estimated to be worth $107,300 to $137,000 if the drugs were sold as packaged. If sold by gram, the cocaine was worth up to $230,000. Inside the house, police found almost $3,000 in cash and two hydraulic cocaine presses, according to the statement of fact.

Prosecutor Baljinder Girn said Djafar-Zade’s criminal record includes convictions for possession of a controlled substance in 2003 and possession for the purpose of trafficking in 2008. Djafar-Zade is also much more than a low-level street trafficker, she said.

Defence lawyer Dale Marshall said it’s a mitigating factor that his client had been on bail for four years without a single allegation of breach, despite police checking up on him all the time. Marshall provided more than a dozen character references from friends and acquaintances of Djafar-Zade. His remorse is obvious to all of them, said Marshall.

Djafar-Zade came to Canada at age six from Tehran. He graduated from the University of Victoria with a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1993. He worked for Corrections for a couple of years, then in construction. He ran his own hauling business until 2016, and looked after his mother when she was very sick and in need of daily care until her death in October 2017, Marshall said.

Johnston called cocaine a “terrible substance” that does “very great damage both to individuals and society. There is no question that this man had a surprisingly, an eyebrow-raising quantity of cocaine in his possession and that quantity is clearly an aggravating circumstance,” he said.

“Additionally, this is not the first time Mr. Djafar-Zade has been involved in offences involving controlled drugs and substances … I have to bear in mind that his man didn’t learn much from his previous sentences.”

Djafar-Zade’s guilty plea is a mitigating factor. Even though it came long after his arrest, a trial has been avoided, said the judge. Johnston said he had looked at the character references and found them persuasive.

“I can say, sir, that you are a lucky man that you have so many people who speak so highly of you. I can also say that you should probably get a smack on the back of the head because you betrayed that trust that those people put in you by this offence. Notwithstanding, that these people are sticking with you is something in your favour,” Johnston said.

The judge ordered that the cash and the hydraulic presses be forfeited.

Djafar-Zade was originally arrested in May 2016 after police found more than $1 million stuffed in concrete blocks in his backyard.

Criminal charges in connection with the cash were thrown out after a preliminary inquiry in 2018.

The money became the subject of a forfeiture application by the Crown. The forfeiture application was resolved through negotiations that were settled out of court and subject to confidentiality, said Marshall.

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